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Planets, life, and meaning in an incredible universe by Jennifer Wiseman - Radio New Zealand interview

04 April 2018

Dr Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer and a Fellow and former President of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Dr Wiseman discovered periodic comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff while working as a research assistant in 1987. After research fellowships at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Johns Hopkins University, she joined NASA in 2003. She is currently a senior astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, where she previously headed the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics.    

Flight to the Lights competition winners excited to see the southern lights over Antarctica

23 March 2018

The Dodd-Walls Centre sponsored 10 students from across New Zealand to take a seat on the Air New Zealand Dreamliner flight to the skies over Antarctica. The students had great views of the aurora and learned about the science behind the lights from experts from the Dodd-Walls Centre and Otago Museum. The Dodd-Walls Centre is committed to research excellence and science outreach, encouraging more kiwis to appreciate and engage in science and the amazing world around us.

Flight to the Lights 2

Check out some amazing Southern Lights footage in this article from the Otago Daily Times.  Video credit:  Brad Phipps, Photo credit: Taichi Nakamura

Leading the way to terahertz whispering-gallery mode photonics

13 March 2018

DWC investigator Rainer Leonhardt and his PhD student Dominik Vogt present a featured article in APL Photonics about ultra-high quality (Q) terahertz (THz) whispering-gallery modes (WGMs) in a silicon resonator, also showcased in AIP Scilight. The achieved quality factor exceeds by far any other reported resonant structure in the terahertz frequency range, leading the way to THz WGM photonics.

Leo and Dominik_small

DWC Industry Advisory Board Chair Dr Simon Poole recognised in Australia Day Honours

30 January 2018

DWC members extend their hearty congratulations to Simon Poole, Australia Day Honours 2018 recipient of the Officer (AO) in the General Division for distinguished service to science in the field of photonics research and development, as an academic, and to the telecommunications industry through advisory roles and board memberships.   

Simon Poole

DWC MSc student receives University of Otago Division of Science 2017 Excellence Award

24 January 2018

DWC MSc student Milena Horvath (now a PhD student with the Hanns-Christoph Nägerl Group, University of Innsbruck) received the University of Otago Division of Science 2017 Excellence Award for 'Best Paper by a Postgraduate Student'.   Congratulations Milena and co-authors DWC Investigators Amita Deb and Niels Kjærgaard!   Above-threshold scattering about a Feshbach resonance for ultracold atoms in an optical collider 

 Melina Horvath resized 

DWC PhD student Fang (Rachel) Ou, awarded The Royal Society Te Apārangi Leader Award 

23 January 2018

The 10th HOPE Meeting will be held in March 2018, in Yokohama, Japan and is an opportunity for Fang to engage in interdisciplinary discussions with Nobel Laureates and other distinguished scientists pioneering the frontiers of knowledge.  Fang is in the second year of her PhD working on fluorescence spectroscopy techniques under the supervision of DWC Investigator, Frédérique Vanholsbeeck.  Congratulations Fang!

Rachel Ou

DWC Investigator Cather Simpson Awarded $999,804 Endeavour Fund

Using ultra-fast laser manufacturing, DWC Investigator Cather Simpson will lead a project to develop portable and handheld devices for skin cancer diagnosis with the potential to provide a non-invasive method to detect cancerous skin lesions.   If we've piqued your curiosity, check Cather's Star Trek Gadget on our Media Page

Lighthouse Event 29 November

DWC Investigators hosted representatives from the High-Value Manufacturing sector in the newly inaugurated DWC Prototyping Facility in Auckland on 29 November. Drinks, canapes, robust debate and discussion focusing on how Universities can assist the sector ensured a very interesting and thought provoking evening. Guest speakers were: Andrew Somervell - VP Products & Technology, F&P Healthcare; Berri Schroder - Entrepreneur and Investor and Greg Shanahan - Co-founder, Veriphi, TIN Managing Director.   Find out more about Lighthouse Events

Lighthouse Event November 1   Lighthouse event November 2

2017 DWC Industry New Ideas Competition Winners

Congratulations to DWC Industry "New Ideas" competition prize winners Rakesh Arul, University of Auckland (below left) and Adrian Delgado, University of Otago (below right) pictured receiving their awards and $1000 prize from John Harvey, DWC Industry Team Leader.  

Rakesh Arul_2    Adrian Delgado 2

DWC Investigators - 2017 Marsden Funding Round Success!

28 November 2017

We are delighted to congratulate the following DWC Investigators on their success in the 2017 Marsden Funding round, announced earlier in November. The Marsden funding round is open to a diverse range of research topics and for DWC members and their physics research to be so successful, it is an outstanding achievement. Congratulations!

Dr Harald Schwefel (Otago) and Dr Miro Erkintalo (Auckland) - Microresonator frequency combs through second-order nonlinearities $910,000
Dr Ashton Bradley (Otago) and overseas collaborators - Making, Probing, and Understanding Two-Dimensional Quantum Turbulence $905,000
Professor Uli Zuelicke (Victoria) and collaborators - Supercharging electromagnetism: Tuneable magnetoelectricity in unconventional materials $905,000
Dr Amita Deb (Otago) - Single photon control of optical phase using ultracold Rydberg atoms $300,000 (Marsden Fast Start)
Dr Kai Chen (Victoria) – Photoluminescence shines a light on the exemplary optoelectronic properties in hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites $300,000 (Marsden Fast Start)

DWC PhD Student Harpreet Kaur wins 3MT competition at Waikato University

20 November 2017

Congratulations to DWC Investigator Rainer Kunnemeyer's PhD Student, Harpreet Kaur, winner of the 3MT (Three minute thesis) competition at Waikato University. Harpreet also took out the People’s Choice Award.   On 29 September, Harpreet presented at the 3MT Asia-Pacific Competition in Brisbane and was one of fifteen participants chosen for the Editor's choice award which will be published in leading scientific magazine COSMOS.   

Harpreet's presentations described the PhD work she is doing on fruit quality sensing.  Well done, Harpreet!  

DWC Summer Students Nanako Shitara & Shreya Bir's Video Abstract Published

17 November 2017

Congratulations to DWC Investigator Blair Blakie and his Summer Students Nanako Shitara and Shreya Bir on the publication of their video abstract “Domain percolation in a quenched ferromagnetic spinor condensate” in the Institute of Physics New Journal of Physics. This is an incredible achievement for two very young and bright students!

DWC Investigator Stéphane Coen awarded James Cook Fellowship

25 October 2017

Congratulations to DWC Investigator Stéphane Coen who has been awarded a James Cook Fellowship to work on a his research project “Widely tunable optical fibre frequency comb”.  

DWC PhD student Ryan Thomas presented with Hatherton Award 

17 October 2017

Congratulations to DWC PhD student Ryan Thomas who was presented with the Hatherton Award at the RSNZ Awards Dinner on 9 October.  The Hatherton Award is for the best scientific paper by a PhD student at any NZ university in the field of chemical sciences, physical sciences, mathematical and information sciences.    Our congratulations also go to Associate Professor Niels Kjaergaard, Ryan’s PhD Supervisor (pictured below with Ryan Thomas).   

Ryan Thomas Hatherton Award

Postgrads valued at Dodd-Walls Centre

4 September 2017

DWC Director Prof David Hutchinson, features in an article in the latest edition of the Otago Post. This article highlights the value of our postgrad students and the wealth of opportunity for involvement as part of the DWC.

Congratulations DWC Prof Blair Blakie

11 August 2017

DWC Professor Blair Blakie became an official Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) last week at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Innsbruck. Congratulations to Blair on this honour! The last appointee was Professor Crispin Gardiner (formerly Director of the DWC), so New Zealand represents 50% of their four visiting fellows so far.

Ag at Otago/DWC Enterprise & Innovation Workshop

10 August 2017

Ag at Otago and Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies collaborate to host a two day workshop on Enterprise and Innovation for University of Otago postgraduate students.

The workshop, led by Dr Chris Kirk, Univentures Ltd and who has considerable expertise in this area, commenced yesterday and will re-convene on 16 August 2017. The workshop will identify ways scientific discoveries and ideas can be translated into practical outcomes.

Science Educators off to Chathams

22 July 2017

Chatham Islanders could be forgiven for believing they are living largely alone, in the most easterly part of New Zealand, more than 800km from the South Island. But some visitors will be arriving there next week — a high-powered team of science outreach educators from the Otago Museum and University of Otago.

The "mini-expedition" will include museum director, physicist and astronomer Dr Ian Griffin, Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies director Prof David Hutchinson and museum science presentation co-ordinator Amadeo Enriquez-Ballestero. They will fly to the remote islands from Wellington on Monday and return late next week.

Prof Hutchinson and Mr Enriquez-Ballestero said they were excited about undertaking the "Extreme Science" project trip, backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds funding. They aimed to inspire young school pupils on the Chathams with what science and technology could already tell them about their world, and potential employment prospects. Museum science engagement director Dr Craig Grant said he also hoped the wider Chathams community "might see how new technologies can help offset some of the challenges of their remoteness, and enable them to take advantage of their unique location", such as linking the science of astronomy with night sky watching and "astrophotography" tourism.

Prof Hutchinson, of Otago University, stressed the expedition aimed "to build a relationship", and the funding included support for one of the teachers on the Chathams "to visit us back here at the university".

A telescope and seismometer would be taken to the Chathams and left behind with other science equipment. The legacy was important, he said. The team viewed this "as the start of a long relationship, not a one-off visit that is then forgotten".

Greatest Science Show Ever in the History of the Chathams

31 July 2017

As part of the Education Outreach programme, Otago Museum and DWC members took science out to Chatham Islands children last week during a week of stargazing, exploring quantum physics and blowing stuff up! Amadeo Enriquez Ballestero, Discovery World Co-ordinator at Otago Museum spoke with Jesse Mulligan from RNZ.

Interview with "Physics Girl" Dianna Cowern

24 July 2017

DWC members recently had the pleasure of meeting Dianna Cowern, more commonly known as "Physics Girl" who was in NZ for a number of invited events. Dianna's passion for Physics (especially quantum mechanics) and her clever and fun Youtube videos have resulted in a massive worldwide following. While in New Zealand, Dianna kindly took time out from her busy schedule for an interview with Graeme Hill from Radio Live.

Enterprise & Innovation Workshop (9th and 16th August)

22 June 2017

Ag@Otago in collaboration with The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies will host a two day workshop on Enterprise and Innovation for Postgraduate students at the University of Otago, on Wed 09 & 16 August. The workshop will be led by Dr Chris Kirk, Univentures Ltd, who has considerable expertise in this area.

Six places are available for Postgraduate students, whose research is aligned with the Ag@Otago Research Theme. Anybody who is interested in attending these workshops should contact Emeritus Professor Frank Griffin, Director Ag@Otago: for further details.

The workshop will identify ways that your scientific discoveries and ideas can be translated into practical outcomes. Details of the overall structure of an Enterprise and Innovation workshop programme will be made available to interested participants on request.

Time stretch and its applications

02 June 2017

Observing non-repetitive and statistically rare signals that occur on short timescales requires fast real-time measurements that exceed the speed, precision and record length of conventional digitizers. DWC Principal Investigator Neil Broderick and collaborators have written a paper on Time Stretch and its applications in Nature Photonics (in PDF format).

DWC Scientists Team up with New Zealand Industry

24 May 2017

View the DWC Interface Challenge video.

The Dodd-Walls Centre and the MacDiarmid Institute connected their top scientists with some of New Zealand’s most innovative companies to showcase what they could do for them. The Interface Industry Challenge was launched late last year asking companies to come up with commercial problems they couldn't solve within their own technological capability, which the Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) would help solve for free.

The CoREs are virtual institutions that draw on the talent of top scientists from anywhere in the country in a particular research area. The Dodd-Walls Centre specialises in photonic and quantum technologies while the MacDiarmid Institute focuses on materials science and nanotechnology. Having signed non-disclosure agreements, the two CoREs are working on proofs of concept to solve problems for seven companies they’ve matched to various scientists. The scientists are now starting to produce some solutions the companies can use as a competitive advantage, and in some cases may even lead to new intellectual property.

The directors of both institutes, Professor David Hutchinson from the DWC and MacDiarmid’s Professor Thomas Nann say New Zealand industry needs to keep innovating to stay ahead. The challenge was a fun way of letting companies know what scientific help they could tap into, and both CoREs hope funding the initial research now will benefit them with longer-term research partnerships. The seven companies involved range from larger companies such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Buckley Systems to start-ups Avertana, Lanaco, Aquafortus Technologies and Invisi Shield.

Andy West, a director on the boards of Aquafortus and Lanaco, says it is unusual to get free research from CoREs and that’s helpful for both companies he's helping govern which are still at the stage of “burning capital and are yet to enter full revenue profitability,” although Lanaco is close. Lanaco is a materials science company that uses fine wood blended with synthetic fibres to produce what it dubs as the world's most breathable air filter, while Aquafortus Technologies is developing water extraction technology involving organic chemistry which could potentially extract water from liquid waste materials and help desalination. “We have access to some extremely clever people across a range of universities as CoREs are not normally in just one site – they draw the best people from around the country in any given field. And we have access to really expensive scientific equipment we couldn’t afford ourselves,“ Dr West says.

DWC Associate Investigator Dr Justin Hodgkiss recently talked to Kathryn Ryan at Radio New Zealand about the Interface Challenge and the benefits to New Zealand when scientists and businesses collaborate - listen to the interview

Scientists discover extreme geothermal activity in South Island

19 May 2017

Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault; DWC Investigator, Professor Neil Broderick, is among a group of scientists who have recently had their paper published in "Nature".


Extremely high temperatures and fluid pressures have been measured in a borehole in the Alpine Fault in New Zealand, a Nature paper reports. The fault is expected to rupture in a magnitude-8 earthquake in the next few decades and the study could have broad implications for understanding earthquakes and fault zone geology.

The Alpine Fault is a major plate boundary fault that runs most of the length of New Zealand’s South Island. The fault produces large earthquakes approximately every 300 years, and it last ruptured in 1717. Rupert Sutherland and colleagues drilled a scientific borehole into the fault to examine the hydrothermal conditions therein.

They collected comprehensive rock, mud and seismological observations and found that temperatures and fluid pressures in the borehole were much higher than expected, particularly in the ‘hanging wall’ above the fault, where the average temperature gradient reached around 125 degrees Celsius per kilometre of depth. Values above 80 degrees Celsius per kilometre tend to be associated with volcanic regions, but there is no evidence for volcanism near this site. The authors conclude that these extreme hydrothermal conditions result from rapid fault movement, which transports rock and heat from greater depths, and fluid movement through fractured rocks, which concentrates heat into valleys.

Congratulations DWC Associate Investigator Harald Schwefel!

19 May 2017

The Dodd-Walls Centre is thrilled to announce that Harald Schwefel was awarded winner of the Quantel Laser: Bright Ideas Competition at the 2017 CLEO Laser Science to Photonic Applications event in San Jose. Having reached the final round of four entrants, Harald presented to the Panel at CLEO, and was delighted to win the competition and receive US$30,000 of laser equipment. Congratulations Harald!

Collective strong coupling of cold atoms to an all-fiber ring cavity

19 May 2017

DWC Investigator Dr Maarten Hoogerland was a contributing author of the following article recently published in Optica.


Large-scale quantum networks could allow a wide variety of applications in quantum computing and simulation. We have demonstrated the operation of a single node for use in such a network. A fiber ring cavity contains a nanofiber section, which mediates atom–light interactions through the evanescent field. We observe collective enhancement of the coupling rate between the ensemble of atoms and the light in the fiber.

This work, published in “Optica”, represents an important step toward implementing such a large-scale all-fiber quantum network.

PDNOC-2 Tandem workshop on pattern dynamics in nonlinear optical cavities

3 April 2017

The workshop PDNOC-2 is the second part of a tandem workshop on Pattern Dynamics in Nonlinear Optical Cavities organised by the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden in collaboration with the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies (DWC) and the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study (NZIAS). PDNOC-2, which will take place in Auckland in the period 6-16 June 2017, will focus on the dynamics of patterns in different semiconductor cavities, in fiber laser setups and in materials with nonlinear optical properties.

NZ physicists collide ultracold atoms to observe a key quantum principle

15 March 2017

DWC Physicists Neils Kjaergaard and Ryan Thomas were recently interviewed by ABC Australia.

DWC scientists control atom

9 March 2017

The equipment Dr Mikkel Andersen and fellow researchers have developed to control individual atoms looks like the stuff of historic science fiction. There are seven lasers and a host of other scientific apparatus in a large machine, and when one researcher let a wire fall in front of a powerful laser it promptly began to smoke in a slightly alarming manner. But the equipment in a lab in a University of Otago science block has helped Dr Andersen and his team do what has not been done before; control individual atoms, making them appear wherever they want them to.

What can we learn about quantum physics from bacteria?

23 February 2017

DWC Director, David Hutchinson, talks to Radio New Zealand about what we can learn about quantum physics from bacteria.

New gas sensing using photonic technology

13 February 2017

Dunedin-based Photonic Innovations has acquired complementary gas detection technology that makes workplaces such as meat processing companies and cool stores safer. The technology was acquired from Auckland company Southern Photonics. Both companies use lasers for detecting gases instead of chemical sensors, which were part of the safety problem at Pike River mine. Photonic Innovation chief executive Dr Ojas Mahapatra said lasers are more reliable and cheaper to operate.

Read full story by following these links

Otago Museum to celebrate Women and Girls in Science

9 February 2017

To celebrate the annual United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Otago Museum, in collaboration with the Dodd Walls Centre of Research Excellence, is hosting a group of Year 11 Otago students this Friday 10 February for a behind-the-scene visit at the Museum. The student’s tour will include a visit to the Museum’s Collection and Conservation labs, Discovery World Tropical Forest, and will finish with a Women in Science panel discussion and question and answer session.

The panel will consist of female staff members from both the Museum and the University of Otago who trained in science and are now involved in a wide range of activities, from researching climate change in Antarctica, to taxidermy, to caring for thousands of butterflies in Australasia’s only three-level live butterfly house. This includes Bianca Sawyer (Physics), Alison Heather (Physiology), Lisa Craw (Geology) and Nysa Mildwaters (Otago Museum).

Nathalie Wierdak, Otago Museum Outreach Coordinator, is pleased that the Museum and the Dodd Wall Centre are be able to offer this event to female students in the region. “This week’s event is an exciting one – not only does it mark a significant date in our science calendar, it once again highlights the importance of encouraging females of all ages to pursue a career in science,” says Wierdak.

Former DWC student, wins Woolf Fisher Fellowship Award

3 February 2017

Matthew McGoverin moved on after completing his PhD in Science under DWC Investigator, Dr Mikkel Andersen to be come a teacher at Havelock North High School. Matthew has won the prestigious Woolf Fisher Fellowship Award. Congratulations on such a wonderful achievement Matthew from all of us here at the Dodd Walls Centre!

New Zealand Can Play a Key Role in Developing Quantum Technology - DWC

1 February 2017

Nobel Laureate, Professor Bill Philips, Professor Ian Walmsley and University of Otago and Dodd-Walls Centre PhD student, Bianca Sawyer were interviewed by TVNZ whilst attending the 10th Annual Symposium of the Dodd Walls Centre.

Nobel Prize Winner, Professor Bill Philips interviewed by Channel 39

1 February 2017

The news that Nobel prize winner, Professor Bill Philips was in Dunedin to attend the DWC Symposium caught the eye of local Dunedin Television Channel 39.

Quantum Technology is Changing the world

1 February 2017

Professor Ian Walmsley of Oxford University was interviewed by Radio NZ National Afternoons whilst attending the Dodd Walls 2017 Symposium.