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December 2011 Prof. Canning appointed Conjoint Professor at UNSW.

This is in recognition for his contributions working with Prof. Gang-DIng Peng in establishing the new National Fibre Facility and for strengthening research ties between The University of Sydney and The University of NSW, signalling a new chapter in inter institutional links.

December 2011 National Fibre Facility comes on line at UNSW 

In a long awaited return, NSW has rebuilt a world-class silica optical fibre fabrication facility. Boasting a new lathe, new draw tower and new refractive index profiler, the facility extends the capability at UNSW, the home of optical fibre research in Australia. Complementing local facilities in Adelaide University, and with strong national and international research ties built on decades of world calss research, the facility at UNSW is well positioned to once again enable Australia to compete at the highest level of photonics research across all National Research Priorities using optical fibres. Optical fibre research has seen an explosion of growth in part a response to the developments in growing global communications traffic, expanding to include serious data transmission and collection from non-traditional means including social sites and optical sensor networks and beyond. More


December 2010 iPL labs come on line.

After a long wait iPL labs are finally commissioned within the Madsen Building at the University of Sydney. During this process over the last two years, iPL has had an immediate impact in raising and expanding the School of Chemistry’s profile both locally and globally. It has become a model example of the University's new cross-disciplinary approach to research and engagement. The labs are part of a larger capacity building exercise for the University to offer novel and distinct approaches to photonics research, including from a materials perspective that was pioneered by iPL. Our impact has been immediately visible - the School’s annual reports show how we are one of the dominant research groups actively contributing across many fields and adding substantially to the national and international network s of the School, and therefore the Faculty and the University. The success in internationalisation, another important core activity of the University, has seen Prof. Canning join the Latin Regional Board of the University to assist further development in that and other areas. Finally, it has not gone unnoticed the impact of chemistry in a growing number of Nobel prizes in Physics, especially those important to photonics – the coming International year of Chemistry in 2011 is an opportune moment to reflect and consider how Chemistry, largely a molecular engineering discipline, is being borrowed by other disciplines to enable progress both in applied and fundamental science and engineering. The University of Sydney’s White Paper admirably captures this ambiguity about each discipline and the need to have far greater engagement between fields, simply a measure of how integrated things have become as genuine sophistication in technology becomes the dominant influence in contemporary society. iPL through the School of Chemistry is well positioned to lead this charge.

December 2010 iPL welcomes Malaka Gunawardena, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Malaka is a Second Year undergraduate student at Auckland University and has chosen to do his summer internship at iPL learning about gratings and how they can be used to study fundamental material aspects through to applications, particularly in optical sensing which looks set to becomes as impactive as telecommunications has been. As part of its broader commitment to teaching and training, and promoting the University of Sydney's Internationalisation program, iPL welcomes funded interns from all over the world.

October 2010 PhD student Roland Hass, University of Potsdam, Germany, visits iPL.
Roland, a member of Physical Chemistry and innoFSPEC at Potsdam University, works on Photon Density Wave spectroscopy as a process analytical tehcnology for highly light scattering media. InnoFSPEC explores novel spectrocopsyic technologies for a variety of applications from space photonics to industrial processing. Gratings promise to be particularly relevant across most of these.

June 2010 APOS 3 to be held in Sydney Australia.

Reflecting the Australian success at APOS, and the strengthening ties in the region, the next APOS will be held outside of China in Sydney, Australia.

June 2010 Roberson Oliveiro wins Best Student Presentation at APOS

The second Asia-Pacific Optical Senors (APOS) conference was held in Guanzho, China. APOS is the regional conference on optical sensing, held in alternate years with OFS. Roberson Oliveiro from iPL won the Best Student Presentation Award for his work on a novel viscometer based on acoustic modulation of a long period grating. 

June 2010 New book on optical fibre sensing and interferometery is out: A. Michie, I. Basset, J. Canning, "Optical fibre sensing and interferometery", Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany. Available thorugh

May 2010 An outstanding student heads home and another arrives. Philip Orr has returned home after a successful 3 month project on compound phase shifted gratings for magnetic sensors. Here more about his impressions. We certainly enjoyed his visit and look forward to hosting more outstanding students from Scotland and the UK. Eric Lindner from the Institute for Photonics (IPHT) Jena Germany arrives as part of an ongoing collaboration in sensing for a two month visit. Not even the bellows of Iceland stopped the intrepid Eric from his first trip to the fabled land down under. Eric will work on regenerated gratings. 

March 2010 Joint Japan-Australia Workshop on Frontier Photonics and Electronics held at the University of NSW, (4-5th March 2010).

As part of the growing Australia-Asia relations, key groups in photonics and electronics accross Japan, Australia and China came together in a focussed workshop to bridge the links between electronics and photonics within telecommunications, sensing, security and space. With a special empahsis on students, presentations highlighted the value of photonics and electronics from helping spacecraft to land on asteroids to explaining the phenomenon of rogue waves taht strike ocean going vessels with sudden and violent force. The Workshop is now ISBN listed and a set of CD proceedings is forthcoming. Convenors and Program Chairs: Prof Kazuo Hotate, The University of Tokyo; Prof Gang-Ding Peng, University of New South Wales; Prof John Canning, The University of Sydney; A/Prof Zuyuan He, The University of Tokyo 

Feb 2010 Visiting Scholar Philip Orr from the Institute for Energy and Environment, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Scotland, has won a Macrobertson travelling scholarship to work with iPL on DFB structures for 2 months. The scholarship is jointly offered by Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, Scotland UK.

2010 Summer students: iPL congratulates and welcomes Robert Hannah and Jack Orford winners of Summer Scholarships from the School of Chemistry, University of Sydney, to work at IPL on novel porphyrin based photonics. iPL also welcomes Danijel Boskovic a summer student from  UNSW who is currently undertaking a Nanotechnology degree.


November 2009

Sydney University's WORLD magazine profiles its eye on European links, including photonic sensing at iPL. More

2009-2010 iPL welcomes Prof. Li BingXin from Department of Information Science and Engineering, Yanshan University, PR China, who is undertaking a visiting Professorship within the group working on topics as diverse as fibre lasers, structured optical fibres and sensors.

8 September 2009, Location: UNSW; Australia-China Joint Workshop on Optical Fibre Sensors for Industrial Applications.

This workshop brings together Australian and Chinese researchers and engineers who are involved in several related international and industry collaborative projects in optical fibre and photonic sensors and their industrial applications. These collaborative projects have been sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) and its Chinese counterpart, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and its Chinese counterpart, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC), and industry partners RTA and RailCorp in recent years. Organisers: Prof. Gang-Ding Peng (UNSW) & Prof. John Canning (Usyd).

iPL welcomes two new visiting scholars 2009-2010: Daniele Tossi - winner of an Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship. He arrives from Turin Polytechnic to work on sensors and lasers. Roberson Oliveiro - winner of a Brazil CAPES scholarship to spend one PhD year at iPL as part of an ongoing research  collaboration between the University of Sydney and the Federal University  of Technology (FUT), Brazil. 

ARC Linkage funding to Dr. Mattias Aslund, Prof. John Canning, Dr. Torsten Helting (Bioprocess Pty Ltd) 2009: The photonic immunochip: retrieving individual Enzyme‑linked Immuno Sorbent Assay (ELISA) array‑units using optical waveguide multicolour fluorescence". Improving the sensitivity and availability of in‑vitro immuno‑diagnostic tests is a critical goal towards developing real   time efficient tools for the detection of infectious diseases, cancers, allergies and auto‑immune diseases. The goal is to increase the sensitivity of these tests by reducing background noise that has been a feature of the commonly used ELISA technology. This will be achieved by developing a novel optical integrated waveguide array supporting a large range of distributed tests, including several based on a novel multi‑colour detection scheme. This massively parallel approach will underpin a new generation of low‑cost, efficient diagnostic tests.

2009 Summer Scholarships Jacob Fenton, Andrew Danos, Chuek Ka Poon and James Ward won summer scholarships from both the School of Chemistry and iPL to work on a range of projects. Highlights were the world's first strong, ultra-high temperature gratings that operate beyond 1100C in standard fibres; novel piezo tuned ring DFB fibre laser; novel sol gel glass and robust filters for laser ASE attenuation 

ARC ARNAM funding for Dr. Kevin Cook. The ARC Australian Research Network for Advanced Materials (ARNAM) has awarded funding for Dr. Kevin Cook at iPL travel and work at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh on characterising novel waveguides and structured optical fibres and to attend an SPIE Europe Optics and Optoelectronics conference in Czech Republic. The project will aim to help understand and process new glassy materials suited for nonlinear applications.


IPOS develops temperature insensitive opto fluidic devices in 2009 using technology pioneered in Denmark by iPL and DTU scientists in 2006.
Work pioneered in Denmark in 2006 by Sorenson et al. proposed the use of liquids to alter the effective thermo-optic coefficient for tuning devices and for achieving temperture insensitivity for both structured optical fibres and photonic crystal waveguide devices. In a recent publication within Applied Physics Letters, IPOS researchers describe implementing this approach for optofluidic devcies made within photonic crystals. See the original paper in Optics Express:

Large ISL grant awarded in major project to develop photonic sensors for the energy industries July 2008.

In an international joint project between the University of Sydney, the university of New South Wales and groups in Brazil and Germany, new photonic sensing technologies are being developed for the oil, gas and energy sectors. The project involves research into materials, devices, systems and eventual field trials and deployment. More

Anatol Zhabotinsky (1938-2008) was the "father of chemical nonlinear dynamics" and helped unravel the oscillating chemical reactions discovered by Boris Belousov in the 1950s. Quoting from the obituary writen by Irving Epstein "Ilya Prigogine — who received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in part for demonstrating that chemical systems far from equilibrium can exhibit periodic oscillations — regarded the BZ reaction as the most important scientific discovery of the twentieth century, surpassing quantum theory and relativity". This complexity was not confined to chemical reactions alone and underpinned many oscillating and chaotic behaviour in numerous systems, the basis for contemporary complexity theory.

Chemical oscillations are important in photonics - they underpin the dynamics of photosensitivity and, indeed, the prediction and observation of chemical oscillations in the solid state for the first time was reported in optical fibres: Canning et al. "Solid-state autocatalysis and oscillatory reactions in silicate glass systems", Optics Communications, V260 (2), 595-600, (2006). Without such complexity, the photosensitive response we see would not be possible.

A fascinating history of the BZ reaction can be downloaded from Prof. Pojman's website here, a film produced by Moscow State University and dubbed in English. This downloadable version was digitized from the original VHS movie.

Optical Fiber Sensors 2008 held in Australia for the first time. 

Prof. David Sampson, of OBEL, at the University of Western Australia has successfully brought and hosted the 19th Optical Fiber Sensors Conference to Perth in Western Australia. Given the exploding growth of optical fibre sensing and in particular its application within structural health and the mineral and energy sectors, a natural synergy with the location was obvious. The state of WA has the largest economic dependency on the mineral and energy sectors within Australia and would stand to benefit enormously if its mining and energy sectors actively took up photonic sensing technologies at a level competitive with those elsewhere.

Visiting Professor works on fast tuning of gratings  2007-2008.

Professor Alexandre Pohl of the Federal University of Technology, Curitiba, Brazil has arrived to join our group for 1 year. He will be working on developing new techniques to optimize rapid tuning of Bragg gratings in all types of fibres, both conventional and structured. Alexandre adds to the growing Brazilian contingent at the Optical Fibre Technology Centre and builds on our strong links with the Federal University of Technology.

University of Sydney and Pittsburgh University 2007 collaboration.

Ass. Professor Kevin Chen and PhD student Chuck Jewart, Pittsburgh University, United States arrive Jun 10 2007 to work on grating writing for advanced sensors operating in the visible. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Kevin will be here for 2 months whilst the student will be here for 6 months as part of an ongoing collaboration between John Canning (OFTC & School of Chemistry, University of Sydney) and Kevin (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Pittsburgh University) in new optical fibre sensors.

The Society for Photonics (previously the Laser and ElectroOptics Society) celebrated 30yrs in 2007. 

2007 saw the transition of IEEE LEOS into the Society for Photonics. In memory of this occasion a "rubiks" cube highlight key photonics facilities around the world was made. The chosen key optical fibre fabrication image was from the world class Optical Fibre Technolgoy Centre (OFTC) shut down at the University of Sydney. The 30th birthday was celebrated at the Annual General Meeting in the USA and an iPL student, Cicero Martelli, was one of 12 winners of an international Graduate Student Award. Cicero is now A/Prof at the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Pontifica Universidad Catolica (PUC) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More 

Photonics industry picks up downunder  2007. 

Brian Ashton joins Mamdouh Matar to take a position with Redfern Optical Components (ROC). Brian has been invaluable to the team, particularly in the gratings areas, and will no doubt bring tremendous value to ROC. We wish them both every success and expect informal links to continue. Overall, the strongest indicator of a strong growth in the Australian photonics industry is the recent aggressive phase of recruitment undertaken by a number of spin-offs such as ROC and Engana (now Finisair), both still servicing largely the telecommunications industry. However, the sensing industry is seeing an even greater explosion of new players in photonics, including Smart Digital Optics (SDO), from Ian Bassett's team at the University of Sydney. More 

Villum Kann Rasmussen Visiting Professorship 2007. 

John Canning has won a Villum Kann Rasmussen Professorship to work with Martin Kristensen at iNANO School of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University Denmark, on novel combination of planar photonic bandgap and other planar technologies for sensing and other applications in 2007.

Q-switch air clad fibre laser August 2006

Q-switched operation of a linear air-clad cavity demonstrated by Mattias Aslund and colleagues. Air-clad fibre was produced using an MCVD manufactured Yb/Al doped preform placed into a silica substrate tube and surrounded by a ring of capillaries. Using propriety techniques this was drawn into an optical fibre with a ring of air holes defining the pump core of the fibre. Mattias Aslund has recently reengineered all fibres designed for high power fibre lasers at OFTC - they are now competitive if not superior to the best in the world.

ROC attracts Kevin Rudd, Opposition 2006 (Current prime minister 2008). 

Kevin Rudd, the current Labour opposition leader who would be prime minister in the upcoming federal elections, has put forward a somewhat visionary proposal to create a modernised super internet competitive with the rest of the world. For those of us who have been overseas and can compare what is available over there, this is a most welcome development to try and break the apparent impasse on the development of Australia’s internet infrastructure which has fallen so far behind so much of the rest of the world. In order to promote this development the Opposition Leader used as a backdrop one of the Australian Photonic’s CRC success stories – Redfern Optical Components whose origins stem from a project put forward by Dmitri Stepanov and John Canning to develop and commercialise fibre grating laser technology that was funded by the CRC as far back as 1998-1999. One of the ROC staff also arranged for Kevin to take a visit of the University of Sydney's optical fibre fabrication facililties (OFTC) across from ROC. More

Photonic crystal fibre depolarisers July 2006.

Mamdouh Matar, a PhD student at the OFTC, has demonstrated potentially the first practical passive component using photonic crystal fibres. He has made Lyott depolarisers using hi birefringence photonic crystal fibre produced by a propriety method developed at iPL. The large birefringence possible with these fibres means that the required length for sufficient polarisation mixing is reduced compared to conventional fibre. The reduction is significant enough that a practical passive device for depolarising narrow linewidth sources becomes possible. Mamdouh has recently taken up an appointment with Redfern Optical Components (ROC) a spin-off from iPL.

Gratings and photonic crystal fibres for orthodontic measurements  2006-2007. 

Maura Milczewski from Federal Technological University of Parana in Brazil is doing a PhD in photonic applications in orthodontic work under Prof. Hypolito Kalinowski. She will be at iPL for six months over 2006-2007 working on novel fibre optic sensors to investigate orthodontic forces in an artificial maxilla model, eventually to be used in real orthodontic work. Results to date have shown the sensors are sufficiently sensitive to detect biomechanical forces, suggesting with the use of adequate materials, optical fibre sensors for monitoring the impact of real orthodontic work on the human jaw bone in vivo are feasible.


Sub-kHz distributed feedback photonic crystal fibre lasers 2006

DFB PCF lasers with linewidth as short as few kHZ have been demonstrated. Nathaniel Groothoff is a PhD student working in this area and Jason De Iuliis is an Honours student from Newcastle University working on narrow linewidth lasers. Photonic crystal fibres offer a number of advantages:

  • Additional bandgap effects from the cladding
  • Access to the resonant fields of the DFB structure through the holes
  • Incorporation of other materials for active device processing and detection.
  • Tailoring the macro response of the fibre properties by controlling the distribution and size of air holes for particular sensing applications.
  • Simple engineering of birefringence for single mode operation.

Nathaniel Groothoff,as part of his PhD, has developed the two photon and two photon step grating writing processes that enable gratings to be written in non-photosensitive fibre including unhydrogenated Al/rare earth doped and pure silica cores.

Dual dispersion compensator and Raman amplifier 2005.

Australia and Brazil work together to develop worlds first dual dispersion compensating and Raman amplifying (DCRA) optical fibres Working with Professor Murilo Romero at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, we have developed a new type of optical fibre that combines the functions of dispersion compensation and Raman amplification to correct for signal distortion and loss along an optical network. This optical fibre is part of a group of fibres termed "photonic crystal fibres" - JCL at the Optical Fibre Technology Centre in the University of Sydney contain Australia's leading structured fibre fabrication research capabilities. It is the only facility in the southern hemisphere capable of manufacturing high quality photonic crystal fibres.

Through the Brazilian Giga Project the fibres will be tested in a recently completed sate-of-the-art optical systems test bed between two major Brazilian cities: Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. This test bed is managed by CPqD Telecom and IT Solutions a foundation dedicated to taking Brazil to the cutting edge of optical network systems research. More  

High temperature resistance gratings 2005.

Custom-tailored phosphosilicate optical fibre Bragg grating written using hypersensitisation at.

UPDATE 2011: These gratings are still operating more than eleven years after fabrication.

Nanotechnology in a fibre 2005-2007.

 In a DEST funded ISL linkage centred at QCV, Melbourne University and involving iPL/OFTC, ANU Australia, Trinity College Dublin and Nanonics Israel, a new type of fibre, Fractal structured fibre, has been fabricated and subsequently tapered down to demonstrate the first feasible tip for increasing signal throughput in applications such as scanning near field optical microscopy (SNOM). The objective is to ultimately fabricate a new type of fibre optic tip that can provide for the first time real time raster imaging in SNOM. Currently, the signal accumulation time of existing technologies is so long that the capability for active image-based diagnostics with SNOM presently does not exist.

In achieving this goal the project consortium has also demonstrated the first successful tapering of photonic crystal fibres where the holes were confirmed open. Further, retainment of hole sizes truly in the nano domain (i.e. <100nm) were achieved enabling true nanotechnology in a fibre to become a reality. Nano- and eventually pico- structuring of silica in fibre form is now technically feasible opening up enormous possibilities for Australian research. Shortly after this work, scanning optical microscopy using fibre tips without metal was demonstrated. See publications page for more details.

Liquid core bandgap fibres and Fresnel fibre technology

Cicero Martelli, a PhD student at iPL and the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Sydney, and colleagues demonstrated the first liquid core bandgap fibre based on a novel technique of selective hole filling of structured fibres. The fibre was a Fresnel fibre itself a leading innovation developed at iPL. These fibres control the diffractive properties of light not only to enable diffractive assisted shaping of the propagating near field within the fibre, but for the first time allowing control of the fibre output in the far field. In the simplest proof of principle, a chirped Bragg fibre design based on distribution of air holes along the virtual zones of the cylindrical waveguide (a subset of the generic Fresnel fibre) resulted in focussing of light at 1550nm. Cicero showed by changing the refractive index of the guiding air hole, the focal length was altered enabling a new approach of sensing with optical fibres previously not possible. Further advantages of the design were demonstrated further by inscribing a grating in the surrounding silica ring with sufficient mode field overlap for practical purposes. The technology for writing gratings in pure silica structured optical fibres was developed at iPL and forms the basis of Nathaniel Groothoff’s PhD.

This work demonstrated the clear advantage of Fresnel fibres with mode confinement spread across hole and glass rather than having the entire optical field within the hole, which limits the flexibility and range of practical sensing possible with bandgap fibre applications.

This precedent was followed up a year later by the demonstration of a liquid filled unchirped Bragg fibre in polymer at the OFTC. Although the demonstration used a non-optimal bandgap fibre design and no selectivity was demonstrated in the hole filling, it nonetheless affirms the feasibility of Fresnel fibre technology for sensing in other materials as well as silica. iPL was the first to recognise and champion the development of polymer and soft glass fibre technology as an ideal pathway for prototyping eventual silica fibre technology. To reach this end, we have several patents in polymer photonic crystal fibre fabrication an activity driven by our colleagues at OFTC.

Fresnel fibre technology signals a new paradigm in fibre technology where the possibility of having true all-fibre technology where no optical components are necessary is now technically conceivable. A review of this technology is now available. More

Organic electronics in a fibre 2006.

Molecular electronics in a fibre opens up an opportunity to bring together the electronic and non-linear properties of porphyrin structures with the optical guiding properties of photonic crystal fibres and planar waveguides. In a significant collaboration with Prof. Max Crossley's group at the School of Chemistry, the University of Sydney, we have demonstrated practical incorporation of porphyrin molecules into photonic crystal fibres. This is the first step in an innovative new approach to entering the “hot” area of hybrid electronic and photonic waveguides and devices - one that is enabled by simply having holes in a fibre. It also combines the unique flexibility of being able to tailor the functional design of the porphyrin structure to suit particular applications either electronic or non-linear for example. The possibility of incorporating single molecule transistors and devices that can be individually operated by photonic excitation potentially heralds another revolution in optical fibre and waveguide design. More

France-Australia science technology project on photosensitivity with UV & femtosecond lasers 2006-2008.

PhD student Nathaniel Groothoff was part of the successful Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) France-Australia Science and Technology (FAST) International Science Linkage Grant obtained between the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne, Australia and the Universite de Paris Sud, France. As part of the joint research program he will spend a month working with leading French groups in multiphoton processing of materials and will be based at the Universite de Paris Sud. He will work with Professor Bertrand Poumellec and Dr. Matthieu Lancry. Our colleagues will in return spend time at the OFTC as part of the scientific exchange to study various processes. This grant is also a key funding contributor to the 1st Int. Workshop on Multiphoton Processing of Glass and Glassy Materials held in Sydney. More

Danish Otto Monsted Fond Professorship 2004. 

John Canning re:

The technique of precision phase shifting during holographic writing was developed

A comprehensive review of UV induced birefringence within hydrogen loaded optical fibre for both polarisation eigenstates of the laser writing beam was carried out. This was accompanied by annealing experiments that revealed this induced birefringence is far less stable than the induced index change, decoupling the two. A new interpretation based on hydrogen depletion through anisotropic reactions assisted by laser birefringence that satisfies all the experimental results and previous literature was presented.

The first demonstration of complexity and oscillatory behaviour in a solid medium that does not involve decomposition of the medium was demonstrated. This work caught the attention of world leading experts in complexity who invited us to submit the work at the leading chaos and non-linear dynamics conference.

The work is published in various journals and conference papers.