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Collaboration to provide sensing tech for Australia’s defence

Photo Credit: University of Sydney]

The University of Sydney Nano Institute and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) recently launched a scientific collaboration that will provide world-leading sensing technology for Australia’s defence.

As reported, researchers at the Jericho Smart Sensing Laboratory will develop nanoscale devices that can assess the physical, chemical, biological, acoustic or electromagnetic environment.

What can the technology do?

The technology will improve on Australia’s monitoring electromagnetic, space and underwater domains since they are becoming more contested and congested.

Plan Jericho is the project of RAAF that will develop augmented intelligence capability in order to protect Australia from technologically sophisticated and rapidly changing threats.

The University’s world-leading design methodologies partnered with Air Force’s experience will accelerate the cutting-edge photonics research into a real defence capability advantage for Australia.

These sensors will enable game-changing awareness when used on aircraft, satellites, and vehicles and integrated into a sophisticate Combat Cloud, or Internet of Defence Things.

The technology developed at the Jericho Smart Sensing Lab will be optimised for Australian conditions including humidity, foliage and other environmental factors that currently pose challenges for airborne sensors.

The Jericho Smart Sensing Laboratory will see the design, development and integration of future-generation photonic sensors, to provide enhanced situational awareness for the RAAF.

How does it work?

The smart-sensing technologies are enabled by photonic platforms, which are miniaturised on to thumbnail-sized chips to bring massive reduction in size, weight and power consumption.

This makes the technology ideally suited for mobile or aerial platforms.

The sensing chips use photons, or particles of light, which cannot be affected by electromagnetic fields in the way that electronic chips can be.

These compact, power-efficient, rugged and reliable sensors will provide information that will enable smart, timely decision-making.

The Jericho Smart Sensing Laboratory

The experimental work will be located in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, which the headquarters of the Institute.

This purpose-built building for research and teaching incorporates state-of-the-art, environmentally controlled laboratories that are specifically designed for research in nanoscale devices, such as those that will underpin the compact smart sensors developed in this project.

Researchers will be able to access the 800 sq. metres of cleanroom space providing lithography equipment for printing photonic circuits in silicon and other materials as well as packaging and prototyping facilities.

Who are involved?

The design-led collaboration brings together Associate Professor Wrigley and Professor Benjamin Eggleton from the School of Physics and Director of Sydney Nano.

Professor Eggleton’s research in photonic-chip technology is world-leading. He regularly presents plenary talks at major scientific conferences.

The NSW Government asked the Professor  and UNSW’s Professor Gooding to establish the NSW Smart Sensing Network, which they did in 2016 because of his group’s leading work on photonic sensors.

The University is well-positioned to engage the Air Force on this project through its multidisciplinary initiatives, including Sydney Nano.

Aside from providing leading-edge technology for the Air Force, the project should also lead to commercialisation opportunities and assist in the creation of sovereign capability.

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