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RMIT to Co-Develop Ultra-Precise Measuring Devices

A collaborative research centre of excellence will develop ultra-precise measuring devices that could enable high-speed internet, better medical screening technologies and carbon emissions monitoring.

RMIT University will lead a consortium of universities and industry partners in the new AU$72 million ARC Centre of Excellence in Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science (COMBS), announced today by the Australian Research Council. They will focus on bringing optical frequency comb technology – which translates electronic signals into light waves for high-precision measurement – out of the lab and into a wide range of real-world applications.

Centre Director and an RMIT Distinguished Professor stated that this is a major milestone in the growing momentum of optical frequency comb technology. He noted that a photonic chip industry has finally emerged and the unique technology it produces will transform many fields of science.

The multi-disciplinary COMBS team includes world-leading experts from eight Australian universities (ANU, Monash, Swinburne, UTS, UniSA, Adelaide and Sydney) and 23 global partner organisations including The Garvan Institute, Advanced Navigation and the National Measurement Institute.

This investment in the Centre will develop a trained, versatile and diverse researcher workforce engaging collaboratively across fundamental science and technology, translation, enabling advances in multiple application areas.

The team spanning various career stages and disciplines had strength in diversity and a strong conviction to lead change in the Australian research community. They are passionate about improving equity, building Australian capability, educating the next generation and translating our research so that it really does achieve global impact.

The RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation and Vice-President stated that COMBS was perfectly aligned with RMIT’s mission to drive research with impact. He noted that the power of real-time information delivered by microcomb technologies is truly transformative. Microcombs will transform the way we measure everything around us, and in doing so change communication, travel and daily life.

The high-impact applications that will be seen as a result of the new centre will catapult Australian research and industry into new domains, he added.

About ARC Centres of Excellence

The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently announced AU$384.9 million in research funding for eleven ARC Centres of Excellence to conduct research in areas of national priority over a seven-year period. ARC Centres of Excellence are focal points of expertise by which high-calibre researchers collaborate to deliver research that benefits Australia, strengthens our international standing, and addresses some of the major current challenges.

The CEO of ARC stated that the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme plays an important role in supporting partnerships between universities, industry, community and government to produce transformative research outcomes.

She noted that the ARC Centres of Excellence also offer exciting new opportunities for early career researchers and empower the next generation of Australian researchers to address Australia’s most important research problems.

The Centres of Excellence scheme is one of ARC’s largest and most prestigious schemes, consistently delivering exciting outcomes that can only be achieved with the collaboration the Centres facilitate.

In addition, universities and collaborators are contributing a total of AU$375 million to these new ARC Centres of Excellence, with 221 partner organisations contributing AU$304.6 million in cash and in-kind funding, which will enhance Australia’s research capability across all disciplines.


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