Available student project - Ultrafast laser cleaning - The light touch

Research fields

  • Photonics, Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
  • Materials Science and Engineering
Ultrafast Laser Cleaning of the granite of the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon.

Project details

Commercially available industrial laser cleaning systems use high power nanosecond lasers. However, they deposit considerable heat load into the objects being cleaned, as the primary ablation mechanism is thermally activated. It causes heat related physical and/or chemical changes, surface damage and potentially bulk material property change.

Our team has developed a multi-wavelength Ultrafast Laser Cleaning (ULC) system, combining together several advanced laser technologies: up to km/s laser scanning speed, µm-precise beam positioning, large area processing with telecentric scanning optics, variable spot shape, and spectral analysis of the ablated plume. Based on a new class of powerful ultrafast lasers, ULC is now reaching the so called “cold ablation” regime where high average power can be used without introducing thermal effects. This enables large increases in material throughput at industrially relevant speeds. ULC is an amazing tool to clean and enhance surfaces in a way not possible with any other method.

This project involves collaboration and applications for:

  • Cleaning the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Art and Heritage restoration and preservation
  • Conservation laser cleaning
  • Laser cleaning for Industry and infrastructures

During this experimental project the student will be expected to develop the following skills:

  • Experimental skills in ultrafast laser interaction with matter;
  • Laser processing of bulk materials;
  • Scanning electron microscopy;
  • Focussed ion beam milling;
  • Computer-control of hardware involved in the experiments;
  • Analysis and interpretation of experimental data;
  • Working as part of a team in a dynamic laboratory environment.

Required background

This project, which requires solid knowledge in optics, laser and in material science. Masters in optics, lasers and material science is highly desired before continuing to a PhD study. Interest in the basics of laser-matter interactions, solid state and plasma physics, electromagnetic waves and lasers, methods of experimental studies of solid state matter.  Laser Safety course will be mandatory.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • Honours or MSc project
  • Phd or MPhil

Contact supervisor

Rapp, Ludovic profile

Updated:  28 January 2023/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster