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Thursday 7 November 2019

Marsden Funds 2020

Congratulations to the following DWC researchers who have been awarded research funding from the Marsden Fund for projects beginning in 2020:

  • Stuart Murdoch (PI), Miro Erkintalo and Stephane Coen (AIs): Multimode microresonator optical frequency combs
  • Claude Aguergaray (PI), Miro Erkintalo and Neil Broderick (AIs): New pulse dynamics for the lasers of tomorrow
  • Niels Kjaergaard (PI) and James Croft (AI): Reactive Cold Collisions in Steerable Optical Tweezers
  • Blair Blakie and Danny Baillie (PIs): Binary magnetic gas – the next generation quantum-liquid
  • Bernd Krauskopf (PI): Feedback loops in climate systems: the maths of delay and consequences
  • Sara Miller (PI) and Keith Gordon (AI): Development and assessment of a multi-spectroscopic fiber optic probe capable of disease diagnosis in the gastro-intestinal tract
  • Nathaniel Davis (PI): Photon multiplying light harvesting antenna systems for luminescent solar concentrators
  • Kai Chen (AI): Can enhanced exciton diffusion propel organic photovoltaic cells beyond the bulk heterojunction? [PI, Justin Hodgkiss, a former DWC member]

This is a fantastic result! In the PCB panel (Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry panel, which includes materials science; physics; chemistry; biophysics, chemical biology and biochemistry) we have researchers involved in 6 of the 9 grants (these comprise of 68% of the available funding for this panel). 

Friday 18th October 2019

Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi 2019 Research Honours

Last night, two of our industry-facing research stars were recognised for their research at the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi 2019 Research Honours.

Professor Cather Simpson was awarded the Pickering Medal which recognises excellence and innovation in the practical applications of technology. Cather was recognised for her pioneering research and commercialisation of innovative photonic technologies, which are addressing challenges with a New Zealand focus and global impact. She has developed this technique for micromachining and microfabrication and she has also spun out the technology to solve problems in New Zealand’s agricultural sector. These include being able to sort sperm by sex and assess the composition of milk for every cow at every milking.

Professor Keith Gordon was awarded the MacDiarmid Medal which is for outstanding scientific research that demonstrates the potential for application for human benefit. This award was for his innovative use of spectroscopy to understand the molecular structure of a wide range of materials - from solar cells, fish oils, to plastics in the environment. His research has optimised solar cells and he has developed methods to identify the different crystalline forms of pharmaceuticals, even at the nano-scale. He has also developed methods to assess the quality and composition of foodstuffs, including dairy, fish and horticultural products.

Congratulations, Keith and Cather!

2019 Research Honours  Cather  Keith

Tuesday 17th September 2019

Demos in Fiji

While taking their Far from Frozen climate change showcase to Fiji, the Otago Museum science team took every chance to share some photonics-based demos with the students that came along.

The students were great and loved exploring properties of light using diffraction glasses, lasers and IR cameras as well as exploring hidden worlds under UV light.

Over two weeks the team spent time in Suva, Rakiraki and Lautoka, taking science to over 1,000 students who otherwise wouldn't have such an opportunity.

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Monday 2nd September 2019

DCP Conference

Update Courtesy of DWC Associate Investigator, Prof. Mike Reid.

Jon Wells and I hosted the 20th International Conference on Dynamical Processes in Excited States of Solids (DPC19) at the Chateau on the Park, Christchurch, in the week of August 26-30. Jon and I handled local organisation and Jevon Longdell (Otago) was the Programme Chair. Dodd-Walls was a major sponsor.

This journey to this event began three years ago, at the previous DPC conference in Paris, where Jon Wells, Roger Reeves, Jevon Longdell, and I put together the bid that was accepted by the International Committee. We locked in the venue about 15 months ago, and waited to see what numbers we would have. Clearly, it’s hard to get a lot of people to fly all the way from Europe, so our meeting was much smaller than Paris, but several participants commented favourably on the standard of work presented, and the friendly feel of the meeting.

Of 93 scientific participants 73 were from overseas (26 from China). There were 34 students (23 from overseas). I was particularly pleased that we had a large number of overseas students. 11 of the Chinese participants arrived on the direct flight from Guangzhou on the Sunday evening. That connection certainly makes travel to Christchurch from China very efficient, and they just fitted into the 11-seat shuttle that I ordered for them!

Many of the presentations were on Quantum Information and Nanoparticle applications, which was highly relevant to the Canterbury and Otago students. This was an excellent opportunity for them to discuss their work with prominent people in those fields. Jamin Martin from Canterbury, and Peter Barnett, from Otago won two of the six poster prizes. The winners had a good geographical spread: New Zealand, China, Poland, and Australia.
DPC was previously run in Christchurch in 2003, Chaired by Roger Reeves. The participants, and the subject areas, have changed dramatically since then. Particularly notable is the large increase in Chinese participants (and less Japanese, European and American). The next conference is in 2022 in Wrocław, Poland.
The conference venue was very congenial and efficient. Our overseas participants appreciated the excursion that took in Rutherford’s Den (Old University site), some of the city sights, a winery, and a quick stop at the current UC campus.

We were ably assisted by our UC and Otago students and postdocs, and were pleased to have UC Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Ian Wright opening the conference, and Head of School of Physical and Chemical Sciences Rudi Marquez at the Banquet. We are grateful to all our helpers, and to the UC staff who helped with web pages, purchasing, and printing. Also, of course, our sponsors: Dodd-Walls, UC, Bruker, and Elsevier.

More pictures and information on the web site:

Our UC helpers, ready to pack up and go home! Philippe Goldner presented the Sturge Prize for a Young Scientist, won by Jiajia Zhou, UTS.

Monday 5th August 2019

ICOLS 2019

The International Conference on Laser Spectroscopy is a biennial conference concerning developments and applications of precision measurement and control in atomic systems. The 24th ICOLS was held in Queenstown from July 8th until 12th, and attracted about 170 participants from around the world.

Highlights included the stunning line up of plenary speakers, including Professors Eric Cornell (Nobel Prize 2001), Ana-Maria Rey, Tilman Pfau, Jun Ye, and Holger Mueller. An array of invited and hot topic talks (including our very own Assoc. Prof. Niels Kjaergaard and Scott Parkins) highlighted research at the cutting edge of the field. The conference was well attended by Dodd-Walls Members, with many of the approximately 150 poster presentations showcasing our research.

Two memorial sessions celebrated the contributions of two key members of the ICOLS community who recently died: Our own Prof. Howard Carmichael spoke on the contributions of Professor Roy Glauber (Nobel Prize 2005), who had deep connections to the quantum optics community in New Zealand. Prof. Ken Baldwin spoke on the life and contributions of Professor Wim Vassen, followed by an impressive talk from Yuri van der Werf on recent research in the Vassen group. Prof. Vassen's work was on Helium spectroscopy and the production of ultra-cold Helium gases, and included collaborations with Dr Maarten Hoogerland.

Participants enjoyed a fantastic week in Queenstown including a superb conference dinner at Walter Peak Station. It was quite amazing to see so many quantum physicists in awe of the steam engines on the TSS Earnslaw used to ferry us over to the station. Huge credit to our Prof. David Hutchinson who made the bid to hold ICOLS in New Zealand 2 years ago, and who chaired the organizing committee.

At the conclusion of the meeting it was announced that ICOLS-2021 will be in Colorado organized by a team from Boulder.


Monday 5th August 2019

ICAVS 2019

Over 300 people (290 from overseas and from 34 countries) collected in Auckland the week of 8 July 2019 to discuss the latest developments and applications of vibrational spectroscopy.

The tenth International Conference on Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy (ICAVS10) was enjoyed by all due to the excellent and varied programme. There was a series of plenary lectures that covered a wide range of topics, including the application of near infrared spectroscopy in food industries, plasmon-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, developing an infrared-based device for clinical application, and nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy for the study of interfaces. The range of oral and poster presentations was even more extensive.

The exhibition space highlighted the latest technology available in vibrational spectroscopy, including a quantum cascade laser based mid-infrared imaging system and frequency comb-based IR spectrometer.

At ICAVS10 we tried to make sure there were plenty of opportunities for students and early career researchers to network and embrace the conference experience, for example, several students were given the chance to chair a session, and there was a sponsored student pub night.

The conference was a success and many of the attendees will, no doubt, see each other at the next ICAVS in Krakow in 2021.

1D4A7074  1D4A7051  1D4A8501

Thursday 18th July 2019

New findings on Fluid Turbulence.

Bryan stirs a cup of tea with Dr. Ashton Bradley from Otago University. He's part of a research collaboration with the University of Queensland which has just published a report in the magazine Science with some breakthrough findings in fluid turbulence which may have implications for our understanding of quark-gluon plasmas, electrons in solids, and the persistence of Jupiter's Great Red Spot, or could help create more efficient transportation.

Friday 12th July 2019

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Eric Cornell who discovered new state of matter

Eric Cornell is an American physicist who, with Carl Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2001 for creating a new ultracold state of matter, the so-called Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC).

The existence of the condensate had been predicted by Albert Eistein, among others, and Cornell had been searching for it for over 10 years before his breakthough - which was discovering that chilling and slowing atoms caused them to merge into a single entity. Eric Cornell has been in New Zealand to attend the 24th International Conference On Laser Spectroscopy (ICOLS), hosted by the Dodd-Walls Centre, New Zealand's national research group for photonic and quantum technologies, which combines top scientists from across the country and is based at the University of Otago.

Click here to listen to Eric's Interview with Kim Hill 

Tuesday 9th July 2019

Measuring the world with laser precision

A group of leading scientists, including the world's best atomic clockmaker and a Nobel Prize winner, are spending time in Queenstown this week. The 24th International Conference On Laser Spectroscopy, which began yesterday and runs until July 12, includes 170 attendees from 17 countries.

Attendees will discuss how they use laser light to make increasingly precise measurements of the world around them - such things as time, mass and gravity. The conference is hosted by the Dodd-Walls Centre, New Zealand's national research group for photonic and quantum technologies, which is based at the University of Otago.  Dodd-Walls Centre director David Hutchinson said it was an honour to be chosen to host the conference. New Zealand was a world leader in quantum physics, the science of the ultra-small. "If we could only see on the scale of metres and seconds, we never would have discovered that quantum physics exists at all. "That discovery was made possible by better measuring techniques that revealed the nanoscale." Prof Hutchinson said it was the 24th conference since 1973, and only the second to be held in the southern hemisphere.  The conference was traditionally held in a resort and it was a "real honour to have it here in Queenstown", he said.

The star line-up of speakers includes Eric Cornell, who won the Nobel Prize for creating a new state of matter in the lab, throwing the gates open to explore the quantum realm. Known as a Bose Einstein Condensate, this quantum state of matter makes it possible to observe and play around with quantum effects large enough to see and measure in the lab. Mr Cornell will also be holding a public lecture on Monday at Otago Museum, "Investigating Supersymmetry". Other conference speakers include the world's best clockmaker Jun Ye, from the University of Colorado in Boulder, top expat Kiwi clock builder Murray Barrett, and Howard Carmichael, billed as New Zealand's best-known scientist in the field. Mr Hutchinson said the clock-makers were working on atomic clocks, using caesium to define a second. Clocks could be made even more accurate using other elements, and soon the definition of a second would probably change, Prof Hutchinson said.

Monday 8th July 2019

Clockmakers gather in Queenstown

The world's top clockmakers are gathering in Queenstown this week, to discuss quantum science.

These scientists are pushing to make the measurement of time more precise. That may sound unnecessary but it's crucial to understanding the quantum world.

Murray Barrett is an ex-Otago student who know works at the Centre of Quantum Technologies in Singapore. He's in the country for the conference hosted by the Dodd-Walls Centre.

Click here to listen to Murray's interview Jessie Mulligan 

Friday 28th June 2019

Otago-Queensland researchers observe 70-year-old prediction, with wide-reaching effects

Ashton Bradley, DWC Principle Investigator, discusses his collaboration with researchers from University of Queensland and how they set out to learn more about the everyday enigma of turbulence in this media release.
The article started out as a proposal developed at Otago in the DWC (led by Ashton's previous PhD student, Matthew Reeves), and then turned into a collaboration with the Queensland BEC lab led by Tyler Neely.

Tuesday 4th June 2019

To catch and reverse a quantum jump mid-flight

Read DWC Principal Investigator, Howard Carmichael's article published to Nature here.  

This press release also discusses how the Yale researchers were inspired by Howard's work.

31 May 2019

Techweek 2019

The DWC ran a highlight event in Auckland this year for Techweek19. It was a lively event with speakers including Hon Megan Woods, Prof Cather Simpson, and Charlotte Walshe. The event focussed on Prof Cather Simpson’s journey from idea to acquisition for Engender, and thoughts on how to encourage academic entrepreneurship. We had strong attendance from DWC members and members of the innovation network, MBIE, Callaghan and the investment community. Feedback on the event was extremely positive, and we are proud to have been one of the highlight events of Techweek19.

Minister Woods was able to attend and speak in her capacity as Minister for Research, Science and Innovation. She spoke to the success of the CoREs, including the importance the CoREs play in the national innovation system as catalysts of ideas and ground breaking research. She commended the Dodd-Walls Centre on being a great example of a successful Centre of Research Excellence with our internationally acknowledged, ground breaking research. Our commitment to our diversity and gender equity also received a special mention with regard to our Carer's Fund.

Techweek 4  Techweek 1  Techweek 3

28th May 2019


Lasers, rainbows and magnetic nanoparticles… it’s just some of the extraordinary science that is at your fingertips in the Mighty Small Mighty Bright exhibition now on at MOTAT

MOTAT has partnered with New Zealand’s leading scientific research institutes the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodd Walls Centre, as well as Otago Museum to develop a touring science exhibition that will demystify the fascinating world of photonics, advanced materials and nanotechnology.

“MOTAT is known as a place of ideas and exploration and so it has been a perfect fit and a professional pleasure to work with all the partners to develop Mighty Small Mighty Bright” says MOTAT exhibitions manager Rebecca Britt.

“MOTAT brought its community outreach and exhibition design skills to the partnership because we believe the achievements of our science community should be shared, celebrated and demystified.

We want the next generation of young science superstars, who visit us at MOTAT every day, to see that they too can change the world with their discoveries, from right here in New Zealand.”
Mighty Small Mighty Bright is open to the public at MOTAT’s M1 Great North Rd location and will remain on show through until September before embarking on a tour to other destinations around Aotearoa.

Mighty Small Mighty Bright 5LORESMighty Small Mighty Bright 4LORESMighty Small Mighty Bright 2LORES

The exhibition has been designed with families in mind and will be particularly attractive to children aged 8 and above.“The Dodd-Walls Centre is committed to making science more accessible for all Kiwis and by partnering with the museum sector we make this happen much more effectively than the traditional model of talks or lectures” explains Professor David Hutchinson, Director of the Dodd-Walls Centre. 

“Mighty Small Mighty Bright brings science to your community, your families, and makes it fun and hands- on. We hope all visitors will leave having learnt a little and having been inspired a lot. Science is for everyone. Enjoy it!”

MacDiarmid Institute Co-Directors Associate Professor Nicola Gaston and Professor Justin Hodgkiss said that partnering with MOTAT had enabled the MacDiarmid Institute to showcase just how vital materials science was to the world around us, from flexible solar panels and superconductors, to anti-bacterial silver particles.

“Mighty Small Mighty Bright shows how science translates from the lab to the marketplace, with real-life examples of hi-tech materials science underpinning industry in New Zealand.

We’re always keen to find new ways to inspire young people to keep on with science and be part of the hi-tech economy.”

Monday 27 May 2019

Red Sock Award for DWC Member

DWC member Andrus Giraldo was one of the seven winners of the famous Red Sock Award for best poster at the biennial SIAM Conference on Applied Dynamical Systems, held with over 1000 participants in Snowbird, Utah last week. The award consists of a pair of red socks and a cash prize, handed over in person by Prof James A Yorke (the University of Maryland, famous for his paper “Period three implies Chaos”), who wears only red socks himself.


Nathan Pages manages to capture part of the award ceremony.

The only other time that we had such a success for the University of Auckland was in 2009 when Ph.D. student Emily Harvey won a Red Sock Award (see the report in the July 2009 issue of DSWeb Magazine. Claire Postlethwaite has also won a Red Sock Award, but it was in 2003, well before she became affiliated with the University of Auckland (this was reported in the first-ever DSWeb Magazine issue from October that year).

Congratulations Andrus!

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Quantum Physicists shining new light on Cave Art

1Koonalda 2019 -- lamp and flutings better 031819

Leslie Van Gelder, a well-known American-born archeologist has been working with Dr Harald Schwefel, and other physicists at Otago University to develop a lamp that mimics the flickering torch light that paleolithic cave artists worked by many thousands of years ago. The lamps will help Leslie and other archeologists reveal intimate details of these ancient people.

The collaboration brings together quantum physicists and archeologists with indigenous Australian land-owners, deer stalkers, artists, ancient DNA specialists, university students and a product designer. The story shows the unexpected ways cutting edge science research can enrich cultural understanding and heritage. It speaks to a willingness and generosity in the New Zealand science community to try something different and help each other out.

Tens of thousands of years ago ancient people of Europe and Australia trekked deep into caves by torchlight creating images on the walls of horses, bison, reindeer and stencil outlines of their own hands. In the flickering firelight of their ancient lamps, the figures would appear to move. The shadows on the curved cave walls gave them an illusion of volume and life and the colours appeared inky-rich and deep. This was how the ancient artists would have seen their work. But in the past few decades open flames have been banned in heritage cave sights and the LED lights that replaced them have taken away much of the mystery.

“The flat grey and white light of the torches made with LED’s produce an almost clinical light and rob the animals of their warm colors and their shadows,” Leslie says.

It was a conversation with a cave guide in Europe in 2016 that gave Leslie the idea for creating the new lamps. Not only could this give a more authentic experience of the caves. It would also help to answer important research questions.

“As a researcher I have been drawn to questions of light for the last decade,” Leslie says. “These new lamps will help us to explore questions of how people moved through the caves and drew the on the walls... Some of the images are found high up in hard to reach places. The artists would have had to climb five metres up a wall or stalactite to reach them, which would require both hands. So someone else must have held the light. I have a soft spot for the people in the shadows who might not have made the drawings themselves but allowed someone else to by holding their light.”

Leslie returned to Glenorchy in New Zealand where she lives, with a mission to find a more authentic lighting solution. The first step was to try to create an authentic copy of the ancient lamps to work out what qualities of the light the lamps needed to mimic. She sourced animal fat from local deerstalkers and a butcher to mimic the reindeer and auroch tallow used in ancient lamps. She worked with a local sculptor to fashion a stone base using primitive tools.

To create a modern equivalent she needed some physicists. This is where the Dodd-Walls Centre comes in. This national centre of collaborative research brings together scientists across the country doing world-leading research in light and quantum science. Leslie discovered the Director of the Dodd-Walls Centre, Professor David Hutchinson while searching the University of Otago website.

“He looked approachable and was leading an interdisciplinary centre that focuses on light,” says Leslie. “So I wrote to him. He replied straight away and said he could help. I wasn’t expecting it to be that easy!”

Professor Hutchinson put Leslie in touch with Dr Schwefel, a Principal Investigator with the Dodd-Walls Centre, also based at the University of Otago. In his core research Dr Schwefel develops world-leading components for incredibly powerful quantum computers. He recently published a paper in the prestigious scientific journal Nature announcing his invention of a device that could revolutionise internet efficiency and speed. So this project came out of left field.

“It was really great to see how we could use our knowledge of light and its spectral properties to provide help for the archeology community” says Dr Schwefel. “Once we identified what we wanted to achieve in terms of the flickering pattern and spectrum, then it was pretty straight-forward to devise a candle-like structure that had the correct flickering pattern.”

1Arch -- IFRAO 2018 -- tallow candle burning in stone lamp

Dr Schwefel brought in two PhD students as consultants and a summer student Timothy Marshall, who worked with the Dodd-Walls Centre Industry manager, Luke Taylor to create the product. The Dodd-Walls Centre funded the whole project.

“They asked me for a Christmas wish list of all the things I wanted the lamp to do,” Leslie explains. “It’s incredibly hard to find funding in the archaeology community,” Leslie says. “This was an amazing gift to have their support.”

In the summer of 2018-19, Timothy worked with Dr Schwefel and Luke Taylor to produce six hand held lamps that Leslie could take as prototypes to a cave in Australia where she was working in March.

“Working to my ‘wish list’ for color, intensity, and flicker, their team did an amazing job and a week before I left, a suitcase arrived for me in Glenorchy that had 6 beautiful lamps. The glass for them had been hand blown by the chemistry department’s glassblower, the bodies of each lamp mimicked stone from different parts of the world and the mechanism were three LED lights colored to the sodium line they had discovered in their light spectrum analysis. Luke and Timothy had done a series of experiments with wind and wick length to produce a series of potential flicker patterns so the lamps in the end had 13 different intensity and flicker pattern that I could change with just the flick of a button. Magic!”

There was an almost audible silence when the team of scientists, archeologists and traditional indigenous land owners entered the cave in Australia that Leslie had lit using the new lamps.

“It was a very moving experience to see the cave in the flickering warm light of the ‘paleo-lamps,” Leslie says.

This is just the beginning of the collaboration. Having discovered ancient fire-sticks in the Australian cave, Leslie will work with Harald and the team alongside the local Aboriginal community to develop a new lamp to mimic its light.

Even though the project was tangent to Harald’s core focus on quantum computing and photonics, it provided an excellent opportunity to contribute to a new field. It also gave the students valuable experience of developing a product and getting it to market with a deadline.

According to Leslie the archeology community have been impressed and inspired by the project. presented the story at a specialist conference on rock art.

“I presented the story at a rock art conference recently,” She says. “Some archeologists told me it restored their faith in archeology. There is a real respect and interest in the perspective from another field like physics.”

Next spring Leslie will be returning to Europe to continue her cave research there. She will be taking with her a box of the new lamps as a gift from the Dodd-Walls Centre.

“I look forward to seeing what we might be able to see for the first time in the shadows and flickering lights of our lamps,” Leslie says.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Dodd-Walls SAB Member wins Quantum Physics Prize.

Science Advisory Board Member, Professor Artur Ekert has won the prestigious 2019 Micius Prize. Full details can be found here:

Congratulations Artur!

Thursday 18 April 2019

1physics Dr Harald Schwefel and Dr Madhuri Kumari

Breakthrough research to revolutionise internet communication

A team of University of Otago/ Dodd-Walls Centre scientists have created a novel device that could enable the next generation of faster more energy efficient internet. Their breakthrough results have been published in the world’s premiere scientific journal Nature this morning.

The internet is one of the single biggest consumers of power in the world. With data capacity expected to double every year and the physical infrastructure used to encode and process data reaching its limits there is huge pressure to find new solutions to increase the speed and capacity of the internet.

Principal Investigator Dr Harald Schwefel and Dr Madhuri Kumari’s research has found an answer. They have created a device called a microresonator optical frequency comb made out of a tiny disc of crystal. The device transforms a single colour of laser light into a rainbow of 160 different frequencies - each beam totally in sync with each other and perfectly stable. One such device could replace hundreds of power-consuming lasers currently used to encode and send data around the world.

The work was born out of Dr Schwefel’s previous research at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany and his collaboration with Dr Alfredo Rueda who did some of the preliminary research.

The internet is powered by lasers. Every email, cell phone call and website visit is encoded into data and sent around the world by laser light. In order to cram more data down a single optical fibre the information is split into different frequencies of light that can be transmitted in parallel.

Dr Kumari says the current infrastructure is struggling to cope with demand as internet consumption increases significantly.

“Lasers only emit one colour at a time. What this means is that, if your application requires many different colours at once, you need many lasers. All of them cost money and consume energy. The idea of these new frequency combs is that you launch one colour into the microresonator a whole range of new colours comes out,” Dr Kumari says.

“It’s a really cool energy saving scheme,” says Dr Schwefel, “It replaces a whole rack of lasers with small energy efficient device.”

He expects the devices to be incorporated in sub-oceanic landing stations where all the information from land based fibres is crammed into the few sub-oceanic fibres available in less than a decade, perhaps within a few years.

“To develop the device for the telecommunications industry we will need to start working with major telecommunications companies,” Dr Schwefel explains. “We have started the process by collaborating with a New Zealand-based optical technology company.”

This breakthrough is the first milestone in a government funded collaboration between scientists at the University of Otago and the University of Auckland who are part of the Dodd-Walls Centre for Quantum and Photonic Technologies - a virtual organisation gathering New Zealand’s top researchers working in the fields of light and quantum science. The research project has been awarded nearly one million dollars of Marsden Fund money to develop and test the potential of microresonator frequency combs.

The optical frequency combs are based on a very unusual optical effect that happens when the intensity of light builds up to extremely high levels. You send a single colour of visible light into the crystal disc along with a microwave signal and because the crystal disc is such high quality, the light and microwave radiation gets trapped inside. The light and microwave radiation keeps pouring in and bouncing around and around inside the crystal. In most situations light never changes colour but in this case the intensity becomes so high that the light and the microwave radiation start merging and making different colours. The phenomenon is known as a non-linear effect and it has taken the team many years to optimise.

The only other group in the world making devices of competing quality is a collaboration from Harvard and Stanford Universities in the US, also published in this month’s Nature, but currently Drs Schwefel and Kumari hold the record for the most efficient device. Essentially this means that their crystals don’t leak any light. The trick is to have an extremely high quality crystal. Harald’s group are a world experts in crafting crystal discs in his University of Otago lab.

The internet is just one of the possible applications for the new optical frequency combs. Another use is high-precision spectroscopy — using laser light to study and identify the chemical composition, properties and structure of materials including diseases, explosives and chemicals. Dr Kumari’s next mission will be to explore this application amongst other possibilities.

“This is a very very exciting project to be working on,” says Dr Kumari. “Optical frequency combs have literally revolutionised every field of applications they have touched. You can use them for vibrational spectroscopy, distance measurement, telecommunications. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can use ours.”

14 February 2019

Congratulations to Dodd-Walls Centre Board Member, Ian Taylor, on being named New Zealand Innovator of the Year for 2019


11 February 2019

DWC Education Team member, Ian Griffin, has NASA Astronomy Pic of the Day.

Iwamoto-104-2019griffin_1024 (1)

23 November 2018

Nature Communications Publication - Observation of bound state self-interaction in a nano-eV atom collider

Congratulations to Ryan Thomas, Matthew Chilcott, Amita Deb and Niels Kjaergaard on another Nature Communications publication.

Light  Matter Physics Group_flattened_cropped_WWW

8 November 2018

Dodd-Walls Centre Members success in 2018 Marsden Round

Huge congratulations to Dodd-Wall Centre Members who were successful in the latest round of Marsden Grants for 2018. 

  • Computing with Walls of Light - Associate Professor Stephane Coen (PI) & Dr Miro Erkintalo (AI), University of Auckland $935,000
  • Hot Entanglement with Cold Atoms - Dr Mikkel Andersen (PI) & Dr Ashton Bradley (AI), University of Otago $935,000
  • SPASER - Towards Practical Nanolaser Devices - Dr Boyang Ding (PI), University of Otago $300,000 (Fast-Start)
  • Next-Generation Small Molecule Acceptors for use in Organic Solar Cells - Associate Professor Geoff Waterhouse (AI) $300,000 (Fast-Start)

1 November 2018

New Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi - Professor Cather Simpson

Cather SimpsonProfessor Cather Simpson is internationally renowned for her contributions to fundamental new knowledge about how light interacts with matter. A Professor of Physics and Chemistry at the University of Auckland, her research has achieved seminal insight into multi-disciplinary areas ranging from ultrafast dynamics of heme proteins, laser-generated force on sperm, and laser beam-shaping to transform materials at the microscale. She also applies that research to address important practical challenges, and thereby generates transformative impact through both. Since 2012, she has delivered 11 plenary and keynote lectures and garnered $23.9m in external research funding as principal investigator. She is founding inventor in two science startup companies, including Silicon Valley award-winner Engender. In 2016, she was Kiwinet’s Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur and BNZ Supreme winner, and a Ministry of Primary Industries Champion. Stellar outreach and teaching, including a National Teaching Excellence award, complement her exceptional research strengths.

19 October 2018

Chair of the DWC’s Industry Advisory Board wins Australian Prime Minister 2018 Prize for Innovation

Congratulations to Dr Simon Poole and his team at Finisar Corporation (NASDAQ: FNSR) for winning the Australian Prime Minister Prize for Innovation for 2018. Simon is the Chair of the Dodd-Walls Centre’s Industry Advisory Board.

Simon and his team have invented technologies that make global internet connections faster.

The global internet we rely on is carried by optical fibres that link continents, countries and cities. The speed and volume of internet traffic was limited by the need to convert data from light to electrical signals for switching and processing. To tackle the speed problem, the Finisar team created light-bending switches using prisms, liquid crystals and silicon, which have dramatically improved the capacity and reliability of the internet. One switch can handle one million simultaneous high definition streaming videos.

The team are now working to boost the capacity of their devices further to meet the demands of 5G and the Internet-of-Things.

More information

18 October 2018

OSA Frontiers in Optics Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC.  

2018~09 Sept 17 OSA_2202-2a

2 October 2018

Quantum Shorts - the International Short Film Festival, is open for entries - Closing Date 1 December 2018

QS2018 FB

24 September 2018

Light, beetles, and an electron microscope – Science Wānanga at Kahuranaki Marae, Hastings

03 September 2018

Dodd-Walls Centre investigator Frédérique Vanholsbeeck awarded Diversity & Inclusion Advocacy Recognition award from the Australian Optical Society

Dodd-Walls Centre principal investigator Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck has been recognized by the Australian Optical Society (AOS). Dr Vanholsbeeckhas been awarded the OSA Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Recognition award based on her profound influence on the practices of her university and more generally in New Zealand science, and through her work on the AOS Council. She has been a vocal promoter of gender parity in selecting invited conference speakers, based on her belief that this is central to giving these conferences, and scientific fields they represent, a positive image to junior female students. Amongst other things, as AOS Councillor she promoted a policy that AOS only sponsors events that have appropriate gender and diversity policies, and she has argued to ensure that each AOS prize has at least one female applicant.

Dr Vanholsbeeck is a senior lecturer at The University of Auckland and has been a member of the Dodd-Walls Centre since 2015.

15 August 2018

Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking interviews DWC Investigator Maarten Hoogerland on his major international breakthrough 

Maarten Hoogerland

14 August 2018

Kiwi breakthrough could help us better understand universe

14 August 2018

DWC Investigator Maarten Hoogerland's article Precision spectroscopy of helium in a magic wavelength optical dipole trap was published in Nature Physics today

Students shine at the 11th Dodd-Walls Centre Symposium

24  July 2018


DWC PhD Candidate Jonathon Barnsley:  Parrot plumage probing with lasers 

09 July 2018

DWC PhD candidate Dominik Vogt's Thesis added to Dean's List

04 July 2018

Congratulations to Dominik Vogt from The University of Auckland who has passed his oral examination, and has now handed in the final version of his thesis ‘Development and Characterization of Waveguides and Whispering-Gallery Mode Resonators for Terahertz Radiation’.    The reports from the examiners were so favourable that the thesis has been added to the Dean’s List reserved for the top 5% of PhD students.  Dominik’s supervisor Associate Professor Rainer Leonhardt is delighted that Dominik will continue to work for the DWC as a Research Fellow, with his main emphasis on THz devices based on a Si platform.

Physics Today Q&A:  DWC's Cather Simpson, founder of New Zealand's powerhouse Photon Factory 

02 July 2018

Women’s leadership in science and industry: 125 years on from the suffragists

15 June 2018   

Universal suffrage is a human rights issue, but WINNING the right to vote was a movement that required vision and gutsy leadership. This year is the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New Zealand. At this year’s Dodd-Walls Symposium ( at Auckland on Tuesday, June 26th, an open-to-the public (6:00-7:30 PM) presentation and discussion will be held on the theme of Women’s leadership in science and industry: 125 years on from the suffragists. The Dodd-Walls Centre hereby extends an invitation to all to join this celebration and forward-looking discussion.

Three extraordinary leaders will give their personal perspectives on the theme as women with exemplary leadership records, vision, and drive: Professor Margaret Brimble (University of Auckland and first NZ woman to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London), Dr Frédérique Vanholsbeeck (University of Auckland, Senior Researcher of the Dodd-Walls Centre and NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre), and Ms Charlotte Walshe (CEO of Jade Software and a Board member of NZTE).

Date: Tuesday, 26 June 2018, 6:00 to 7:30 PM
Location: The University of Auckland Business School, 12 Grafton Road, Room OGGB3


Suffrage125 advertisement 20in

Eyal Schwartz explains the "Quantum World" to Balclutha Rotary Club 

20 June 2018

Eyal_Schwartz_Balclutha_Rotary2 resized

The Dodd-Walls Centre Education Outreach Team community engagement 

DWC Investigators Niels Kjaergaard & Amita Deb's Revolutionary imaging technology wins 2018 Proof of Concept grant

'James Bond Camera Project' ODT Article 19 June  

15 June 2018

Cather Simpson is out-standing in her field (again)!

29 May 2018

Dodd-Walls Centre & Otago Museum partnered science engagement awards

25 May 2018

The Science of Light

17 May 2018

Professor David Hutchinson interview on Radio New Zealand on International Day of Light.

Cyber Security in the Quantum Computing Age

Professor Artur Ekert, Dodd-Walls Centre International Science Advisory Board member's interview on RNZ on "Cyber Security in the Quantum Computing Age".

International Day of Light 16 May 2018

Monday 14 May 2018

International Day of Light Logo

When the Auckland harbour bridge lights up at 12.01 am on Wednesday 16th May, it will signal the beginning of world-wide celebrations for the International Day of Light.   The six-minute Vector light and sound show will depict light and energy from the earliest origins of human settlement in New Zealand, through the Maori creation story, to the possibilities for a future world harnessing the true potential of energy and light technologies.  Chair of the New Zealand Committee for the International Day of Light, Professor David Hutchinson, today announced that with Vector lighting up of the bridge, New Zealand would once again lead the world in the celebrations of a United Nations light event.  “Three years ago New Zealand led the world in celebrating the International Year of Light, the initiative of New Zealander Professor John Dudley, who worked for many years to secure an International Year of Light to raise awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications. This time, the UN is celebrating the first official International Day of light, and once again, New Zealand leads the celebrations.”  

Auckland Harbour Bridge to shine in celebration of light

15 May 2018

Cyber Computing in the quantum computing age 

9 May 2018

DWC International Science Advisory Board Member, Prof Artur Ekert, discusses the dangers of the quantum age with RNZ's Jesse Mulligan.

Professor Artur Ekert's free public talk "Is There a Perfect Cipher?" 

04 May 2018

Professor Artur Ekert, one of the inventors of quantum cryptography, will be speaking on Wednesday 9th May at the Otago Museum (5.30pm Hutton Theatre). The talk, "Is there a perfect cipher?" is for a general audience. Artur is the Director of the Centre for Quantum Technology in Singapore and a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He is visiting the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies at the University, with whom he is a member of the Science Advisory Board.

On science and stamp collecting

19 April 2018 

DWC Board Member Physicist Professor Richard Blaikie shares his perspectives on what social science and the humanities can bring to the physical sciences and the role of te ao Māori in research in Aotearoa.

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 Sponsors the 6th Australian & New Zealand Association of Mathematical Physics (ANZAMP) Meeting

01 February 2018

Prof Bernd Krauskopf reports that the Sixth Annual Meeting of ANZAMP, hosted by the Department of Mathematics of the University of Auckland, was held earlier in 2018. Sponsored by the DWC, this was the first time this conference was hosted in New Zealand, providing an excellent opportunity to showcase NZ’s varied research activities in mathematical physics.

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

30 January 2018

DWC members extend congratulations to Dr Simon Poole, on the occasion of his Australia Day 2018 Honour.   Dr Poole has bee recognised as Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.  The honour recognises his 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 Professor 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.