Founders' Day

8.30am       Technical displays

Cockcroft Building

9.00am       Director’s presentation

Prof Tim Senden

Departmental talks

10.00am    What do footprints on wet sand have to do with building robotic grippers?

Dr Mohammad Saadatfar, Applied Maths

Shake sand; it will act like gas. Pour it from a bucket; it will flow like a liquid. Stand on it and it will support your weight like a solid object. Sand belongs to a special class of matter known as granular materials, which exhibit unique properties depending on their boundary conditions. In this talk, I will explore the physics behind some of the fascinating behaviours of granular materials.

10.15am    Atto-clock mystery: How long does it take an electron to tunnel?

Prof Anatoli Kheifets, Atomic Molecular Physics Laboratories

The attoclock uses the rotating electric field of a circularly polarized laser pulse as a hand of the clock. By applying this measuring technique to multi-photon atomic ionization, experimentalists find themselves facing an almost age-old and controversial question: how long does it take an electron to tunnel through a barrier? Does the attoclock provide the correct answer?

10.30am    Nano-satellites for mega-scale experimental physics

Prof Christine Charles, Centre Plasma Fluids

Space is the largest laboratory available to physicists. Low-cost nano-satellites are becoming the platform of choice for physics experiments, for astrophysics, for Earth observations and for terrestrial communications systems. Here we present our work on Cubesats: space instrumentation testing and calibration, cold gas and plasma propulsion systems.

10.45am    Morning Tea

Leonard Huxley Building Courtyard 

Departmental talks (cont)

11.15am    Liquid Instruments

Prof Daniel Shaddock, Department Quantum Science

In August 2014, a group of ANU researchers and students took the plunge and formed a new company, Liquid Instruments, to develop, manufacture and sell a new test and measurement device. In this talk I will give an overview of why Liquid Instruments began, how things have unfolded, and where we are headed. I’ll try to highlight what went wrong, what went right, and give some advice for any others that are considering dipping a toe in the water of research commercialisation.

11.30am    Race towards faster-than-flash memory

Dr Dinesh Venkatachalam, Electronic Materals Engineering

With ‘Flash’ memory rapidly approaching scaling limits (or perhaps not) it gives other new technologies an opportunity to rise to displace the current technology. This talk will highlight the recent materials science advances to build one such serious contender, resistive random access memory (ReRAM).

11.45am    Alchemy of ultrafast microexplosion

Prof Andrei Rode, Laser Physics

Powerful ultrashort laser pulses focused in a bulk of transparent material create the temperature and pressure conditions comparable to that exists inside planets and stars.  In this talk we demonstrate a possibility to create entirely new exotic states of matter with unusual physical properties which cannot be produced under laboratory conditions by any other means.

12noon       Quantum optics on a nonlinear chip

Dr Alexander Solntsev, Nonlinear Physics Centre

Quantum entanglement is a special connection between the particles, which enables correlations without interaction. Entangling photons, elementary particles of light, brings the promise of secure communication and ultra-fast quantum computing. Another phenomenon called optical nonlinearity allows interaction between electro-magnetic waves of different colors. Bringing the concepts of quantum entanglement and optical nonlinearity together, and integrating them on a chip, opens a way to efficiently generate entangled photons and tune the entanglement. In this talk I will show the first experiments featuring such tunable integrated sources. 

12.15pm    Supernovae near Earth – mapped through interstellar Fe-60

Dr Anton Wallner, Nuclear Physics

The interstellar medium is continuously fed with new isotopes produced by nucleosynthesis, for example in supernova explosions. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) has been used to detect the live radioisotope Fe-60 on Earth, picked up from the interstellar medium following its 'recent and nearby production.

12.30pm    Practical nuclear physics from kindergarden to postgraduate

Dr Greg Lane, Physics Education Centre

Staff from Nuclear Physics and the Physics Education Centre teach both practical and theoretical nuclear physics at a range of levels, including public and government outreach programs, primary and high school demonstrations and lab visits, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate programs, both coursework and research. We will describe the differences and the similarities between these variety of teaching experiences, the importance of hands-on activities for engagement, and how we have found the use of real research equipment captures the imagination of students and drives their learning.

12.45pm    Australian Fusion - with an eye to ITER

Prof John Howard, Plasma Research Laboratory

The Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility in the School contributes to the world effort to harness fusion power in the areas of basic plasma physics, 3D magnetic confinement, extreme materials and advanced measurement systems.  I will describe some recent advances in optical imaging systems at the Facility and discuss how and why they are winning Australia a place on the USD20 Billion ITER fusion project presently under construction in France.

1.00pm       Mysteries of the Quantum Vacuum

Prof Vladimir Bazhanov, Theoretical Physics

In quantum theory the vacuum state is not empty but filled with fluctuations of all observable fields, eg the electromagnetic field. These fluctuations never stop even at the absolute zero of temperature. Standard calculations give an absurdly large value for the corresponding "zero-point" vacuum energy, leading to the hitherto unsolved cosmological constant problem, since the energy-mass is universally self-gravitating. In my talk I will discuss recent fascinating mathematical discoveries in this field, which are still awaiting their physical interpretation.

1.15pm       Founders’ Day Luncheon

Oliphant Building
RSPE Tea Room

Date & time

Fri 16 Oct 2015 9am – Tue 30 Nov -0001


Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre #60 Mills Road, Acton


Staff, students and public welcome


Director RSPE