Lasers are the power tools in the world of science. In this theme we use their extraordinary light to see, hear, smell and feel far beyond the reach of our senses. When you fire a laser at an object there is a tremendous amount of information in the light that bounces back. We use different colours, pulses and powers of laser light to learn about the structure and function of biological tissue and many other surfaces.
Our expertise in interpreting the way light interacts with matter has led to many unexpected and fruitful collaborations across New Zealand and overseas. We are developing sensors to sort sperm for the dairy industry, detect bacteria on carcasses, grade the quality of meat and locate blossoms on kiwifruit plants. We are working with engineers and medical researchers to develop a technique for detecting eye disease, a new method for measuring the intensity of skin burns and a force sensor for keyhole surgery. We are also working with geophysicists to measure vibrations deep beneath New Zealand’s alpine fault.
Our sensing and imaging projects are underpinned by a strong focus on theory and numerical modelling. Our researchers are world renowned for their understanding of nonlinear optics, when light stops behaving according to the normal rules. We are able to exploit these nonlinear effects to create novel sensing and imaging technologies.