The Photonics Industry: Australia’s invisible giant

Tuesday 28 July 2020

A report released today reveals that the photonics industry in Australia and New Zealand has grown remarkably in recent years and is now a significant contributor to the economy.

Lighting Economic Growth: Photonics in Australia and New Zealand estimates the local photonics industry comprises over 500 companies with more than 12,000 employees, and contributes $5.4 billion dollars to the Australian and New Zealand economies.

“It is exciting to see the report by the Australian and New Zealand Optical Society on the large scale of the Photonics industry in the region,” said Professor Dragomir Neshev, a researcher at RSPhys and Director of the TMOS Centre of Excellence.

“Photonics underpins a wide range of industries, from wearable health sensors to autonomous vehicles. It really is an invisible giant.”

The term photonics covers any technology based on the transmission and processing of light, (in contrast with electricity-based electronics) and ranges from conventional cameras and optics, through lasers and optic fibres, to radical new technology such as quantum computers and sensors.

The Report was released by the Australian and New Zealand Optical Society and is available here.

Photonics has long been a strength of the ANU Research School of Physics (RSPhys), which has repeatedly taken blue-sky research and transformed it to commercial success.

ANU-originated spin-off companies cover technology such as laser systems (Hotlight Systems), quantum cybersecurity (Quintessence Labs) and light-based quantum computing (Quantum Brilliance), said RSPhys Director, Professor Tim Senden.

“Physics at ANU excels in precision and novel measurement.

“The innovative technical environment that fosters our spin-off companies also benefits our global partnerships, and indeed all the fundamental research we do,” Professor Senden said.

RSPhys is a partner in five photonics-related Centres of Excellence: TMOS (generating, manipulating and detecting light at the nanoscale using disruptive concept of meta-optics), CQC2T (next generation quantum computing and communication technology), EQUS (quantum materials, engines and precision imaging systems for quantum machines), FLEET (low-energy electronics based on quantum materials) and OzGrav (quantum noise reduction technology, applied to gravitational wave astrophysics).

Additionally, RSPhys is involved in new funding of $8.7 million. The project includes a $2.8 million Cooperative Research Centre Project grant to a consortium led by Australian manufacturer Advanced Navigation. They are working with ANU and RMIT University to create next-generation photonic navigation technology. The project will transform research generated by RSPhys’ Applied Metrology group into real-world products manufactured in Australia and exported to the world.

A full list of innovation projects at RSPhys is on our Innovation Page, and our wide range of photonics  research projects can be found on the Photonics research theme page.

Related news stories

An ANU spin-out company whose technology will help future moon landings and could one day lead to flying cars has been bought out by one of Australia's leading navigation firms in a deal worth $40 million. Vai Photonics was established in 2021 by Dr Lyle Roberts from the Research School of Physics and PhD graduate...
An ANU spin-out company whose technology will help future moon landings and could one day lead to flying cars has been bought out by one of Australia's...
Artificial intelligence robotics company Advanced Navigation is set to acquire ANU spin-out Vai Photonics, founded by CGA researchers Lyle Roberts and James Spollard. The ANU spin-out is in talks with NASA to use its navigation technology on the next moon landing project, in a deal worth up to $40 million,...
Artificial intelligence robotics company Advanced Navigation is set to acquire ANU spin-out Vai Photonics, founded by CGA researchers Lyle Roberts...
Research students from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Germany will collaborate to invent technology that could make smartphones thinner, lighter and able to produce holograms. The PhD researchers could develop imaging technologies that make science...
Research students from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Germany will collaborate to invent...
Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed new technology that allows people to see clearly in the dark, revolutionising night-vision. The first-of-its-kind thin film, described in a new article published in Advanced Photonics, is ultra-compact and one day could work...
Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed new technology that allows people to see clearly in the dark, revolutionising...

Updated:  11 August 2022/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster