Photonics minilab

Minilabs is dedicated to providing quality teaching materials for High Schools, Colleges and Universities. The minilab was born in the Physics Department of the Australian National University out of a desire to create a versatile, simple to use comprehensive kit to aid the learning of photonics.

Our photonics minilab is the ideal vehicle for teachers to use as a one stop solution to providing years 8-12 and beyond with a comprehensive knowledge of photonics. The minilab has been designed for students to take a hands on approach to photonics. The photonics minilab is safe, fun, affordable and most importantly of all an invaluable teaching aid that will convey all of the important aspects of photonics. It is fast and simple to set up even the toughest of experiments. Within a few minutes of opening the box you can be running a spectroscopy experiment, a Michelson Interferometer or even a free space optical link to send a radio signal embedded in a beam of light.

minilabs logo

Photonics is the study of light. This broad definition encompasses the study of lasers, lights, atomic spectra, optical networks and thousands of current and future applications. If the 20th century was the era of electronics, the 21st is the era of photonics. Photonic networks already carry our phone calls and broadband internet data at the speed of light. Massive amounts of data can be transmitted effortlessly accross the country and around the globe.

In the future, optical devices will continue to replace copper cables in every application imaginable. Research is underway to create computer processors and memory storage devices that take advantage of the properties of light. The quantum computer is nearing practical reality.

In order for Australian students to make the most of the exciting opportunities forthcoming in the age of photonics, they need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills that are in demand now and into the future.


The photonics minilab includes a number of specialist optical components sourced from around the world. These products have been carefully selected for experimental quality and value for money. All the components are designed to be versatile and simple to use, and within minutes of opening the box a wide range of insightful experiments can be performed.

optical mount

One of the key features that sets our minilabs apart is the universal optical mount. These mounts are magnetised to allow a robust and easily manipulated set-up. Any of the lenses, mirror, LED's or photodiode can be placed in the mount and the height of each component is set precisely so that no adjusment is necessary. Students can therefore begin to learn immediately without becoming frustrated by awkward and clumsy set-up arrangements.

We aim to eliminate all of the clutter and difficulty often associated with physics by providing hassle free learning environments that will provide teachers with the tools to reach their students in an interesting and exciting new way.

laser diagram

Teachers are often reluctant to use lasers in the classroom due to safety reasons. However the unique properties of lasers allow us to perform beautifully simple experiments. With this in mind we have included a laser array that is enclosed on all sides by the bench. The laser sits on a specially designed fixed mount inside the optical bench. It cannot be pointed out of the bench and will not work if removed. Furthermore we use 1mW class two lasers which are less powerful than most laser pointers, yet bright enough to perform an assortment of experiments from ray tracing to building interferometers.


For more information or to order photonics minilabs please contact:

Andrew Papworth

T: +61 2 61252 808

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster