Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences

ERA rating for Physical Sciences


Physical sciences research at Macquarie University builds on an historical base in optical, plasma and condensed matter experimental physics. Research has now expanded into astronomy, biophotonics, nanooptics, and theory and experimentation in quantum optics.


Macquarie has a 35-year record of excellence in optics and laser physics, most recently hosting two major nodes of Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres of Excellence (CoE): for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (2002–10, and 2011–17) and for Nanoscale Biophotonics (2014–20).

Macquarie University has a strong track record in theoretical quantum research. The University hosted a node of the ARC CoE in Quantum Computer Technology (2002–10) and now hosts a major node of the ARC CoE for Engineered Quantum Systems (2011–18, 2018–24).


Diamond Raman lasers have applications in defence, and Macquarie has collaborated with the US Army and Air Force on scaling Raman lasers to higher power, as well as working with diamond fabricator Element Six on measuring and improving material properties for laser applications. Macquarie participated in the CSIRO On Prime training course in 2016, during which we engaged with end users on potential applications. Macquarie’s applied Raman physics also encompasses yellow lasers. The University holds several patents in this area, one of which has been licensed to Optos for retinal surgery.

Small scale, big impact  A student working on machinery

Macquarie’s OptoFab has led the world in advanced manufacturing using lasers to remove or add very thin layers of material (ablation), enabling the development and commercialisation of products across the pharmaceutical, defence and optical sectors. It has pioneered additive and subtractive micromachining at a standard that surpasses many US and EU competitors.

Cochlear sources its micromachining research and development needs from OptoFab. OptoFab also consults on technical specifications for government and corporate optical fabrication facilities and runs equipment training placements. OptoFab’s advanced manufacturing has contributed to the discovery of gravity waves and improving optical fibres. It has increased the profitability of many companies that contract its services.

  • 1. Engagement


  • 2. Impact

    Significant contribution

  • 3. Approach to impact


University Research Centres

MQ Photonics Research Centre
Director: Prof Judith Dawes

Centre for Quantum Engineering
Director: Prof Gavin Brennen

Centre for Diamond Science and Technology (CDST)
Director: Prof Jason Twamley

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics Research
Centre (MQAAAstro)
Director: Prof Mark Wardle

ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum
Systems (EQuS)
Contact: Dr Thomas Volz

ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics
Contact: Prof Nicki Packer

Partner with us

Content owner: DVC - Research Last updated: 17 Oct 2019 4:00pm

Back to the top of this page