ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics

Developing tools to help us understand how cells function at a nanoscale level.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) focuses on creating new light-based imaging and sensing tools to measure the inner workings of cells inside the living body, as well as in other dynamic biological systems.

The CNBP is led by the University of Adelaide, with research focused nodes at Macquarie University and RMIT University. The Centre also has international partners around the world and draws from a pool of expertise in fields as diverse as engineering, physics, chemistry, materials science and medicine. This collaboration aims to create the biomedical and biosensing tools of tomorrow.

The mission

CNBP's research encompasses Discovery—of chemical, nanomaterial and fibre based light responsive tools—that Sense and that can also Image. The advanced tools and techniques this ARC develops enable living cells and tissues to be examined in unprecedented detail, deepening our understanding of the human body and other living organisms.

This research has wide-reaching implications for medical evaluations and scientific discoveries. By offering insights into the nanoscale processes that underpin all life, an opportunity to explore and extend the limits of science is being undertaken, in areas ranging from persistent pain, to vascular health, to fertility and reproductive success. Additionally, CNBP’s advanced research and molecular sensing tools are able to be adapted for use across veterinary care, agricultural, food manufacturing and other industry relevant processes. 

The Centre aims to add to a proud tradition of Australian innovations and technologies by focusing on the science that will build the country’s economic future and foster its talented young researchers.


Founded on ambition, research at CNBP is organised into three impact areas (Sensing, Imaging and Discovery), with specific research targets in each.

In Sensing and Imaging the aim is to be able to quantify and/or image biological events: 

  • In ultra-small volumes 
  • in defined spatial (anatomical or cellular) compartments 
  • in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo, in behaving models of health and disease 
  • at the relevant timescale, including in real-time 
  • at a resolution, sensitivity and specificity level, not previously achieved and 
  • using deployable devices

With targeted scientific Discovery by: 

  • visualising the complexity of the working immune system 
  • quantifying and diagnosing pain 
  • development of in vivo tools for cardiology 
  • detection and monitoring of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in artery walls) 
  • assessment of sperm/embryo/oocyte quality 
  • molecular sensing in the reproductive tract 
  • other molecular detections across biosciences, agriculture and industry processes

The team

Professor Mark Hutchinson is the CNBP Director and he’s backed by a diverse team that ensures the ARC remains cutting-edge. Professor Ewa Goldys is the Deputy Director of the Centre and is based at Macquarie University alongside Discover Theme Leader Professor Nicolle Packer, and Node Leader Professor James Piper.

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