Founder's Day - 2013

Program of presentations

8:30amTechnical displays, Cockcroft Building
9:00amProfessor Stephen Buckman, Director

Director’s Presentation
The year in review, awards and prizes

9:45amCormac Corr, Physics Education Centre

Pathways to Change: Evolving Educational Culture

It is a time of change within the university. By 2020, educational excellence must parallel research excellence. RSPE is responding to this. There has been a cultural change in how teaching is perceived and also a change in the way teaching is delivered. This presentation will highlight those changes.


Vince Craig, Hongjie An & many others, Applied Maths


Bubble Lifetimes:  Their Importance for Nanobubbles, New Medical Technologies and the Foaming of Beer and Champagne

I will describe our recent research on nanobubbles and how we have resolved the mystery surrounding their extensive lifetimes by correcting a 60 year old theory. This has implications not only for incipient medical technologies used to treat a range of serious diseases but also resolves the important question as to how long you have to wait after dropping your beer before it is safe to open it. 

10:15amChristine Charles, PRL SP3

The Largest Space Simulation Facility in the Southern Hemisphere

In collaboration with the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, SP3 is building a huge thermal vacuum chamber at Mount Stromlo to test our series of plasma thrusters for space vehicles. This major piece of National Infrastructure has already attracted requests from overseas clients and will be a flagship for the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre. 

10:30amNiko Eckerskorn, Laser Physics

An Optical Funnel: Enhanced Particle Injection for Coherent Diffractive Imaging

Current particle injection methods for x-ray coherent diffractive imaging are incredibly inefficient. Our solution is to use an optical funnel, a hollow core laser beam collimating a stream of particles with radiation pressure.


Morning Tea in the Courtyard
  Leonard Huxley Building courtyard
11:00amPeter Bouwknegt, Theoretical Physics

On the Classification of Topological Insulators

Topological insulators and superconductors are many-fermion systems possessing an unusual band structure that leads to a bulk band gap as well as topologically protected gapless extended surface modes. It was recently realised that deformation classes of gapped Hamiltonians are naturally classified by K-theory.  This classification parallels the classification of the 2 complex and 8 real symmetry classes of Hamiltonians (the '10-fold way') of Altland and Zirnbauer, and naturally leads to a periodic table of topological insulators. In this talk I will give a brief overview of these developments, as well as discuss some open problems. 

11:15amIsabelle Staude, Nonlinear Physics Centre

Magnetic Nanophotonics: Teaching Light a Second Language

Light - being an electromagnetic wave - consists of propagating electric and magnetic fields. But, do we actually ever see the magnetic component? It seems not, as most optical devices, including the human eye, are only able to talk to the electric field. However, by "teaching" optical nanostructures a second language they are now able to talk to the magnetic component of light just as well. Quite surprisingly, a natural implementation of this concept is provided by low-loss all-dielectric nanoparticles, paving a way towards improved devices that can exploit the full range of light-matter interactions.

11:30amClive Michael, PRL TORO

Waves Dumping Particles: Fusion Research on Large and Small Scale Experiments

High frequency plasma waves are a current topic in fusion research as they may reduce the fusion burn due to resonance with alpha particles produced in the fusion reaction.  I will showcase research that I was involved in from the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak in the UK on detecting these waves and their resonant particles.  The ANU H-1 Heliac, despite being colder, exhibits similar plasma waves and present research within the department is focused on finding the structure and drive of these waves, thus contributing to the global fusion research effort.

11:45amJohn Debs, Quantum Science

The Role of Quantum Science in Precision Measurement

Precision measurement is arguably at the heart of advancements in science and technology. Humankind's most precise measurements rely on quantum phenomena, and I will discuss how quantum science and work at DQS enables precision measurement in areas ranging from the detection gravitational waves, to detecting iron ore deposits in the ground. 

12:00pmMaarten Vos, AMPL

A Homage to the Electron Gun

The last time you had an electron gun in your hand was probably when you brought your old TV to the tip. The electron gun is clearly out-of-fashion and is hence often overlooked as a tool to explore new physics. I will give some examples demonstrating that experiments based on the “good-old electron gun” can sometimes compete very well with large-scale experiments using the most intense neutron sources, large synchrotrons or GeV particle accelerators.

12:15pmAvi Shalav, EME

Controlling Corrosion to Make Nanowires

At high temperatures many metals and other materials are easily damaged via corrosive oxidation processes. By understanding the chemical reactions occurring at the surface and selecting an appropriate ambient atmosphere, conditions exist where dense arrays of oxide nanowires can be readily grown.  These oxide nanowires, grown via a simple one step thermal process, are suited for a range of emerging electronic applications, including gas sensing, photocatalysis and ultracapacitors.

12:30pmDuc Luong, Nuclear Physics

The Power of Four Nucleon

The extraordinary stability of both the helium atom and its nucleus (the α-particle) have the same quantum-mechanical origin: the filling of the lowest energy state by a pair of electrons, or pairs of protons and neutrons respectively. This stability can cause nuclei to behave as though they contain α-particles. Recent experiments at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility at the ANU have shown that α-clustering can strongly affect reaction dynamics as well as structure of light nuclei.

1:00pm – 3:00pmFounder’s Day Luncheon

Please join us for the Founder’s Day Luncheon barbeque in the RSPE Tearoom, Oliphant Building

Date & time

Fri 18 Oct 2013, 9am–3pm


Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre & Tearoom


Staff, students and public welcome