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New cutting edge research centre for meta-optics

11 October 2019

Joint media release with the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP and Senator the Hon Zed Seselja

Australian researchers will help turn science fiction into science fact by harnessing technology that will lead to ultra-fast, light-based WiFi and real-time holographic displays.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced the Morrison Government was providing $34.9 million to establish a research centre to develop new technologies that will harness meta-optics.

The centre will translate its research into innovative technologies to be used in transport, health, security, defence, agriculture, entertainment and education. The results will benefit Australian society, drive productivity improvements and create jobs.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems will be led by Professor Dragomir Neshev and based at the Australian National University in Canberra.

“This Centre of Excellence will bring together world-leaders in science, technology and engineering to deliver research that will underpin future technologies,” Mr Tehan said.

“The centre will also be an incubator for outstanding young innovators to be future leaders in the sector.

“Our Government is investing in centres to conduct cutting-edge research that will create the jobs of the future, drive productivity gains and benefit our economy.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews welcomed the Centre of Excellence.

“This type of cutting-edge technology has the potential to make a real-world difference, as well as helping industry to grow and create new jobs,” Ms Andrews said.

“The Morrison Government knows technology will be a key driver to continue our 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, which will improve the quality of Australian lives and generate new local jobs.”

Professor Neshev said the centre will drive research in smart and miniaturised optical technologies that link the digital and physical worlds through light, making Australia a global leader in the fourth industrial revolution.

“Our ground-breaking research will improve our everyday lives with the development of optical technologies that will empower autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, wearable sensors and remote sensing,” Professor Neshev said.

“Our research will develop optical systems thinner than a human hair that monitor a driver’s fatigue in cars and keep people safe on our roads. Further, it will develop smaller, smarter, faster and cheaper wearable optical sensors to better monitor our health.

“It will develop holographic displays and augmented reality for more immersive and powerful education in our classrooms and laser tech that makes autonomous vehicles better at predicting and avoiding hazards.

“And it will underpin light-based WiFi – thousand times faster than current technologies – to be used in our mobile phones and laptops.

"This research centre will help create Australia’s very own Silicon Valley – setting up a global epicentre for light-based research and development that will develop the products of tomorrow, today.”

Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said Canberra continued to benefit from the Morrison Government, from investment in research and our health system, right through to infrastructure.

“Today’s announcement builds on our Government's already massive investment in our city,” Senator Seselja said.

“With more than $800 million in investment for infrastructure and institutions in the ACT in the last two years alone, I am proud to be part of a government investing in Canberra.”

The Australian National University will collaborate with experts at four Australian universities and 20 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Together they will provide an additional $35.4 million in cash and in-kind support to the centre.

More information about the ARC Centres of Excellence program is on the ARC website.

Media contacts:

Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070

Minister Tehan's office 02 6277 7350

Senator Seselja's office 02 6277 3187