imgThe Dodd-Walls Centre is a national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) involving six New Zealand universities, hosted by the University of Otago.

The Dodd Walls Center has over 200 members, approximately half of whom are research students. Our research income includes base CoRE funding from the Tertiary Education Commission along with other funding from government and the private sector.

We are named after the two contrasting personalities responsible for the prominent international standing of New Zealand Physics in Quantum Optics, Photonics and Ultra-Cold atoms.

Professor Jack Newton Dodd (1922-2005)


Jack Dodd was a man of great charisma and personal charm, a lively, witty man; one might even say, a professor of the old school. Nevertheless a man who did the first experiments which demonstrated the phenomenon of "quantum beats", and gave the theoretical explanation for them. Born in Hastings to parents who encouraged a lively intellectual atmosphere in the home, he was deliberately given a middle name to inspire his interest in science. By the time Jack began school, his family had moved to Dunedin, and over his school years he developed a passion in number of areas, becoming an accomplished musician and graceful dancer.

Although his wide ranging interests were sometimes detrimental to his academic studies, he was a student of outstanding ability, and entered the University of Otago to study physics in 1940. Jack threw himself fully into University life, and served as President of the Otago University Student association, before completing his BSc in 1942. He then went into war service, working on scientific problems, before returning to Otago to complete his Master’s degree in 1945, and a year of Honours mathematics in 1946. In 1947 he was awarded an 1851 Exhibition Scholarship for doctoral study in Birmingham, where he wrote his thesis in nuclear physics. With characteristic energy, he made time for outside activities, including playing in the British open bridge championships in 1948 and representing New Zealand at an International Students Union Congress in Paris in the same year. That year was also a personal landmark when Jack met his future wife Jean, and they married in Coventry in 1950. He completed his doctorate in 1952, and although it was normal at that time for outstanding young New Zealand physicists to remain abroad permanently to further their careers, Jack chose to return to the University of Otago to take up a lecturing position.


He was a visionary, with the ambition to establish physics research of international quality in New Zealand, and since it was not practical to continue in nuclear physics, he started afresh in the field of atoms and electromagnetic radiation. This was an area that was surging ahead with the impetus of recently developed electronic technologies such as radar, and he began working to explain some new and puzzling observations in atomic spectroscopy. His development of some original ideas in this field led to the award of a Nuffield Fellowship to Oxford in 1959. During that year he developed a close collaboration and lifelong friendship with George Series, as they formalized his ideas to produce a proper theoretical description of the phenomenon which became known as quantum beats. The central idea was that incident radiation could establish a coherent quantum superposition between two atomic levels of different energy, which would subsequently reradiate with a temporal intensity modulation that would characterize the superposition. Jack’s first public presentation of his ideas was given under the stern gaze of Willis Lamb, Professor at Oxford and Nobel laureate for his own work on atomic spectroscopy. Lamb’s initial response was sceptical, but within a few days he reversed his view, and endorsed Jack’s theory. The elegant paper published to report the findings became widely known as "Dodd and Series" and proved extremely timely, with the field of spectroscopy about to experience explosive growth under the revolutionary impact of the laser. This classic paper was one of a number that helped establish the theoretical foundations of the new field of laser spectroscopy, and later quantum optics, and was widely cited for many years. When Jack returned to Otago in 1960, he set about creating a research group, and he recruited a team of outstanding students and colleagues. Over the next decade they extended the initial ideas, and carried out a series of experiments which cemented the ideas into wide acceptance. Jack was an inspirational leader, and a generous and loyal supporter of his colleagues and students. Many of the group from those years have gone on to forge outstanding academic careers in New Zealand and Australia, and he took great pleasure in the success of those who succeeded him. Recognition for his achievements came from a number of sources. In 1967 he was awarded a Visiting Fellowship for a year at JILA, a joint institute between the US National Bureau of Standards and the University of Colorado. Jack became a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1964, and was appointed Beverly Professor of Physics at Otago in 1965, a position he held until his retirement in 1988. He was awarded the Hector medal of the Royal Societyof New Zealand 1976 in recognition of his research achievements. The connections he pioneered with Oxford and JILA have been fruitful and enduring ones for Otago that have benefited many staff and students, and have led to reciprocal visits from colleagues at JILA and Oxford.

Professor Daniel Frank Walls (1942-1999)


Dan Walls, in contrast, impressed immediately by the power of his personality and his personal conviction of the importance of quantum mechanics, of New Zealand and by his absolutely uncompromising view that he would not only do research of international standard in New Zealand, but also of world leading standard, and that the New Zealand science system would have to adapt to this point of view, sooner rather than later. The depth of this conviction became a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to the current recognition of New Zealand as one of the leading countries in Quantum Optics, Photonics, and Ultra-Cold Atoms.

Dan Walls, like Jack Dodd, was born in Hawkes Bay, but in Napier rather than Hastings. Even though I was born in Hastings only a month later, he and I first met in Auckland, in form 3A at Auckland Grammar School in 1956. For the next five years we were rivals (in the atmosphere of competition still in favour in that institution) for the top places in physics, science and other subjects. We were then both students in the Physics Department of Auckland University from 1961 to 1965, and both of us then left, after completing MSc degrees, for foreign parts, he to Harvard, and myself to Oxford. In the early seventies, after five years of doctoral and postdoctoral work, we both returned to New Zealand, and by 1972, were both senior lecturers in the University of Waikato. The science departments were established there only in 1970 - hence our job was to set up theoretical physics there. As eager young Turks, we set about doing this with an enthusiasm which did not always meet with approval from the local establishment. Dan had been a student of Roy Glauber, one of the winners of the 2005 Nobel Prize in physics, who set up the concepts and formalism of Quantum Optics, the study of those aspects of optics in which quantum mechanics played a dominant role. Jack Dodd’s work on quantum beats was a pioneering piece of work in this field, done before the introduction of the laser as a practical experimental tool. Glauber’s work formulated the concepts necessary to describe the physical phenomena now available for study because of the availability of the intense coherent monochromatic light produced by lasers. Dan had also spent a postdoctoral year in Stuttgart with Hermann Haken, one of the pioneers of the quantum theory of the laser, and arrived in New Zealand well equipped to spread the word here. My work overseas had been in particle physics, but like Jack Dodd, I felt something else was appropriate for New Zealand, and I joined Dan in his research. In the first few years in Waikato we branched out into nonequilibrium thermodynamics of chemical reactions, a field of study that had many formal similarities to the methods of quantum optics, and which led to the formation of significant international connections. However, we soon moved more seriously back into quantum optics, especially after Howard Carmichael arrived from Auckland University to work on a D Phil with Dan and myself as 1st and 2nd supervisor. Dan first became prominent in quantum optics in his prediction, with Howard Carmichael, of the existence of photon antibunching in the spectrum of resonance fluorescence, and thus initiated the study of non-classical light as an experimentally realizable subject. During this initial period John Harvey, also a graduate of Auckland University who had done doctoral studies overseas took up a postdoctoral fellowship in Auckland University. John had worked on theoretical nuclear physics, but also decided a change was in order. He a Dan decided it might be a good idea to start work on biophotonics. Among other things this led to a joint research effort with the then Ruakura Agricultural research Station on laser measurement of bull sperm motility. Thus John became an experimental laser physicist, and ultimately a photonics researcher. Dan later became very active in the theory of optical bistability, and in the formulation of proposals for the production of squeezed light. He, Matthew Collett, at that time doing research for his MSc thesis, and myself developed the crucial theoretical foundations required to describe the experiments on squeezed light, predicting correctly the full squeezing spectrum measured by the team of Jeff Kimble (then in Texas, now in Caltech.) After these achievements, the "New Zealand School" of quantum optics was firmly recognized, and we both wrote definitive books on Quantum Optics. Dan’s book was authored with Gerard Milburn, whom he had attracted from Australia to do doctoral work in Waikato, and who is now internationally famous as an expert on quantum information, and is the director of an Australian Centre of Research Excellence in Brisbane based on that subject. In 1987 Dan took up the Chair of Theoretical Physics at Auckland University, while I stayed at Waikato, and we established a programme of ongoing joint meetings once a month, alternately in Auckland of Hamilton. The effect of Dan’s move was to double the size of the theoretical Quantum Optics effort in New Zealand. Later Dan moved into theoretical atom optics, and in the last few years he was also active in the field of Bose-Einstein condensation. His ability to identify what the most important problem of the time, and to motivate research students (as well as other researchers from all round the world) to join in research programmes on such problems, was one of his most prominent characteristics. Typically, too, he could see that many problems could be reduced to very simple models, which were amenable to rapid solution.

Heroes in the World of Science

The history of the Dodd Walls Centre is an untold story of kiwi pioneering. Perhaps because we talk so much more about sports than science in New Zealand these heroes never became household names like Team New Zealand or the All Blacks yet their achievements are just as extraordinary. DAN WALLS came back to New Zealand in 1971 having completed his PhD and postdoctoral studies at Harvard and Stuttgart Universities. At the time New Zealand was a backwater in physics. Most of the advances were taking place in Europe or America and that was where a brilliant physicist like Dan was expected to set up if he was serious about his career. But Dan, who loved his country, and the lifestyle, chose to return to New Zealand. After a year lecturing at Auckland University he accepted a position at Waikato, a new university with a strong agricultural focus, but an almost invisible physics programme.

In the ten years that followed, Dan together with his close colleague Crispin Gardiner, set up a school of theoretical physics which attracted outstanding students and visitors from around the world, and played a leading international role in developing the field of Quantum Optics. Their pioneering work helped lay the foundation for the field of quantum information and the development of quantum computers, now attracting great attention worldwide. Twenty years earlier another visionary kiwi physicist, JACK DODD carried out pioneering work that helped establish the field of Quantum Optics. In 1952 Jack returned to Otago University from the UK where he had completed his PhD in nuclear physics. There were no resources to continue in nuclear physics so he started afresh in the newly important field of atoms and electromagnetic radiation. The timing of his work was propitious. The invention of the laser in 1960 led to an explosion of interest in the field, and new understanding was required. Jack’s work contributed to the knowledge underpinning this new field.

Discovering The Strange World of Quantum Theory

The theory behind today’s emerging quantum technologies was first discovered at the beginning of the 20th Century by scientific legends like Einstein, Schrödinger and Heisenberg. It threw everything on its head revealing a vast uncharted realm of physics with completely unfamiliar rules. In this quantum realm a particle could be in two places at once, spin in different directions at the same time and pass through walls. Particles could act like waves and waves like particles. This came as a shock for physicists who thought they had cracked all the important laws of physics. But for theoretical physicists who live for the thrill of exploring and charting new territory, quantum physics became the promised land - a world of great intellectual riches. For decades after the principles of quantum physics were established there was no technology to directly test them and the quantum realm remained largely inaccessible. This changed dramatically when the laser was invented in 1960.

Lasers Open Quantum World for Exploration

A laser is a device which emits a very precise frequency of light in a well directed beam. It provides a way of ‘talking’ to atoms with the greatest delicacy and control that nature allows. A beam of laser light can be used to probe, control and observe the quantum state of atoms, including moving them around one by one. Although the theory behind it was laid down by Einstein in 1917, the first device was only made in 1960. It is an example of pure curiosity driven research, and famously was initially described as a solution looking for a problem. However it did not take long before a multitude of applications became obvious, and it is now a key part of much of 21st century technology.

A Golden Era of Physics in New Zealand

The Dodd Walls story is inseparable from the story of the laser. Dan Walls was at Harvard when laser technology was beginning to take off. His supervisor Roy Glauber later won the Nobel Prize for developing the theoretical framework for quantum optics, a field made possible by the invention of the laser. After Harvard, Dan worked in Stuttgart with Hermann Haken who pioneered the theory of the laser. He was right at the centre of this emerging field and saw the potential for it. He also realised that it was an ideal fit for New Zealand, requiring much creativity but few expensive resources. It is testimony to his vision that he attracted many top physicists to the rural outskirts of a colonial town at the bottom of the world.

CRISPIN GARDINER was Dan’s closest ally in the early days at Waikato - a brilliant mathematically gifted theoretical physicist. They had been friends at Auckland Grammar School and studied Physics together at Auckland University before going separate ways. Crispin studied nuclear physics at Oxford University, and continued in postdoctoral research abroad until Dan lured him home to New Zealand. HOWARD CARMICHAEL, now a Principal Investigator in the Dodd Walls Centre was also part of the early dream team. He was one of Dan’s first PhD students and followed him from Auckland to Waikato. DWC Principal Investigator, JOHN HARVEY, who now leads the Dodd Walls Development Centre, also joined the team in the early days. Along with Dan, he started work on bio-photonics - the interaction of laser light with biological organisms. One of Dan’s particular forms of genius was his ability to identify the right problems to work on. Throughout his career he travelled the world, keeping in touch with the top labs and staying connected. This was a key to the team’s success. The problems Dan chose to work on often became the basis for theoretical and experimental breakthroughs. The team became world-renowned, especially for their summer schools, which attracted leading physicists from around the world. They developed a capacity to do calculations with the “lofty concepts of quantum theory” that proved relevant and useful to experimentalists around the world. Dan had an irresistible enthusiasm that convinced several experimentalists to change tack and work on the topics he was focussing on. The group’s first major breakthrough was their prediction of “photon anti-bunching”, a phenomenon that, through experiment, could demonstrate the particle-like nature of light. This opened the way to study the quantum properties of light in the lab. This was the subject of Howard’s PhD under Dan’s supervision. Crispin Gardiner developed statistical approaches to modelling laser light and its interactions with atoms that remain the reference point for statistical analysis in many fields today. Howard Carmichael is famous for his “quantum trajectory theory”, which forms the basis for the latest advances in quantum computing and is widely used in simulation software to predict the behaviour of quantum systems. Together the team developed an understanding of light and matter which paved the way for some of the modern developments in photonics and quantum technology. In 1987 Dan took up the Chair of Theoretical Physics at Auckland University while Crispin stayed at Waikato. The move effectively doubled the size of the theoretical quantum optics effort in New Zealand. The two continued to collaborate closely and as their students spread across New Zealand and the world, their legacy travelled with them.

The Otago Story

For the other half of the Dodd Walls Story we go to Otago University. When Jack Dodd returned to New Zealand in 1952 the laser hadn’t been invented. But new developments in electronic technologies like radar were hinting at the possibility of “communicating” with atoms. Drawn by the promise of this research Jack developed some original ideas to explain the interactions between electromagnetic radiation and atoms which won him a prestigious Nuffield Fellowship to Oxford University in 1959. There, along with his close collaborator and friend George Series, he published his most famous paper on “quantum beats”, which became a landmark for the field. This phenomena predicts a way of observing the quantum nature of atoms. It describes how light shone on an atom can induce two simultaneous quantum states that cause the intensity of the scattered light to surge on and off in beats.

Back in Otago Jack gathered a team of outstanding students and colleagues who tested the ideas further and ran experiments to establish wide acceptance of this theory. Jack Dodd was the father of quantum optics in New Zealand. He was an inspirational leader and a generous supporter of his students and colleagues who went on to have outstanding academic careers in New Zealand and Australia. After those golden years of research, things became somewhat quieter in Otago. Then in 1979 a new recruit arrived. ROB BALLAGH had met Jack Dodd at JILA Colorado, one of the world centres for atomic physics and laser technology. Rob was doing his PhD in theoretical laser physics at the centre of this burgeoning field. At JILA he was surrounded by world leading scientists, some whom went on to win Nobel Prizes for their contribution to laser and atomic physics. It was an incredibly exciting time. But, like Dan Walls and Jack Dodd, Rob loved New Zealand and wanted to return. So he accepted an invitation from Jack, and his colleague Wes Sandle, to join them at Otago University. Rob arrived to find out of date labs and very little funding, but Wes Sandle had a burning ambition and the drive to compete on the world stage. Over the next decade, with Wes’s support, Rob worked hard to maintain his overseas connections and contribute research of international interest. The laser was opening up the possibility of experiments in the quantum realm, but the theory for describing them was challenging. Rob had a particular and early interest in developing computational techniques for solving the complex equations that arose. He used these to both explain experiments, and predict new results. Throughout this time he kept in close contact with Dan Walls and Crispin Gardiner, regularly attending their summer schools.

Bose Einstein Condensates Put Otago on the World Stage

Just as the invention of the laser did in 1960, the emergence of Bose Einstein Condensates (BECs) in 1995 dramatically changed the field. Where the laser had opened the gates to the quantum realm via the medium of light, BECs gave physicists an unparalleled new system to explore the quantum world of matter. A Bose Einstein Condensate is a new state of matter in which the particle behaviour of atoms is suppressed and it becomes a single wavelike entity. In contrast to normal states of matter, where thermal fluctuations usually mask the underlying quantum properties, a BEC is dominated by its quantum behaviour. Just as Newton and Galileo worked out the laws of motion and gravity by dropping things, bumping them into each other and measuring the outcomes, experimentalists could play with BECs to work out the implications of quantum physics.

The first Bose Einstein Condensate was made in 1995 at JILA in the US. At the time Rob was on leave at Oxford University. He was in the right place at the right time, working with Keith Burnett who was an expert in this new area. At the same time Andrew Wilson, an ex-PhD student from Otago was working in Keith’s lab trying to create a BEC. Together Rob and Andrew hatched a plan to return to Otago and attempt to make a BEC in the lab. Rob came home to raise funding while Andrew finished his postdoctoral fellowship, made important contacts and gathered as much knowledge as he could for the challenge. It is hard to describe how outrageous this ambition was. Making a BEC was a very difficult technological feat. Atoms needed to be suspended in space and cooled to temperatures far below the background temperature of the universe. It was a challenge that many well resourced groups around the world had attempted but not achieved. In contrast to those large teams, Andrew began with one PhD student and a very small budget. Eventually he was able to recruit two key research fellows, and despite all odds they succeeded. In 1998 they were the 11th lab in the world to achieve Bose Einstein Condensation - beating the UK and Australia. The team acknowledged the generous support and guidance of their overseas colleagues. When the BEC was announced a TV crew showed up and a wave of excitement spread across the country. It was a pivotal achievement, rewarding the University for its support of a high risk programme, and also opening the doors to some generous funding from the government supported Marsden fund. This great achievement marked the beginning of a new era at Otago University as one of the world centres for cold atom research. A very notable friend was Bill Phillips who lent his Nobel Prize winning authority to the achievement, singing praises of the group in public lectures and radio interviews. It also enabled Otago to attract top researchers and students who have gone on to achieve world first results. Mikkel Andersen, a current DWC Principal Investigator now holds the world record for controlling individual atoms. Principal Investigator, Jevon Longdell has developed a world-leading quantum memory solution and others are contributing at top level to the development of quantum computing and communication. The transition from pure theoretical to experimental research represents a growth in maturity. The significance of this for New Zealand is that the skills and knowledge-base required for experimental physics transfers to industry. From far flung roots in the obscure realms of quantum theory we have grown a workforce capable of generating new high-tech industries, transforming our economy and contributing to the next wave of quantum technologies.

Achieving Critical Mass through the Dodd Walls Centre

In 2013-14 the DWC, led by Director David Hutchinson and Deputy Director Neil Broderick, brought together researchers from across New Zealand working in the field of light and won the bid to become a Centre of Research Excellence in 2015. The result has been to supercharge the impact of research and enable more collaborations with industry. One of the aims of the centre is to train a workforce to grow New Zealand’s high tech sector. Now students travel from all around the world to study here. There is a natural synergy between the legacy of Jack Dodd and Dan Walls that has been recognised in the Centre and many exciting collaborations are emerging. By pooling resources and coordinating efforts the Dodd Walls Centre has given quantum optics research in New Zealand critical mass and international recognition.

Who we are

The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies is a world-class collaborative research network building on New Zealand’s internationally acknowledged strength in the fields of quantum optics, photonics and precision atomic physics. The Centre’s research programme undertakes cutting-edge research to generate fundamental knowledge about how the physical universe is composed and behaves. Alongside this research focus, the Centre educates and trains highly skilled individuals for New Zealand’s high-value-added technological future.

The Dodd-Walls Centre’s mission is:
  • To create a research centre that is recognised as one of the world’s leading organisations in the field of photonic and quantum technologies.
  • To build upon the acknowledged strength of New Zealand in the areas of non-linear and quantum optics and precision atomic physics.
  • To train and develop skilled staff and students to the highest international standards.
  • To help develop the high-tech industry sector, thus ensuring economic growth and continued career pathways in New Zealand.

The impact of our programme in the period 2015–2017 has already delivered towards our mission and strategic outcomes and this will continue through the next three years of the Centre’s activities.

2018–2020 research programme

Theme 1a Photonic sensing and imaging


We work to produce the next generation of sensors and imaging systems needed for scientific and industrial applications. This will be done by extending the current understanding of the fundamental ways that light and sound interact with matter and then using this to construct new sensors and imaging systems that solve specific problems in three fields : biomedical, geophysics and primary industries. The three year research programme includes:

  • Fundamental physics of imaging and sensing techniques including optical coherence tomography (OCT), photo-acoustic tomography (PAT), Laser Doppler vibrometry (LDV), spectroscopy, fluorescence, Raman microscopy, microresonators and THz sensing.
  • Building a fibre thermometer for measuring temperature along the Alpine Fault (SI3).
  • Apply vibrational spectroscopic methods (Raman, mid- and near-infrared) and OCT to a range of samples such as meat, cartilage, milk and fruits to develop new optical probes.
  • Develop machine learning techniques for various image segmentation and image interpretation tasks and signal processing in general.

Theme 1b Photonic sources and components


We aim to produce the next generation of light sources needed for scientific and industrial applications. This will be done by extending our understanding of the basics of light propagation in optically active and nonlinear materials and using this to construct new lasers and parametric sources of light over a broad wavelength range from the near-infra-red to the mid-infra-red. The three year research programme includes:

  • Generation of wide bandwidth optical signals and the generation of frequency combs spanning the mid-IR.
  • Novel fabrication techniques for microresonators.
  • Trace-level gas detection using widely-tuneable microresonator sources.
  • Develop novel methods of generation and investigate frequency combs for precision measurement.
  • Numerical modelling of non-linear optical systems.

Theme 2a Quantum fluids and gases


We conduct fundamental research to improve knowledge of the physics of condensed matter and quantum many-body physics. This is done through experimental and theoretical work on ultra-cold atomic gases. For the period 2018–2020 we will work to understand and manipulate novel spin fluids, emulate artificial gauge fields, topological matter, and atomtronics which is the study of devices and circuits of atomic superfluids that emulate electronic circuitry. The three year research programme includes:

  • Extend our ability to use optical tweezers to manipulate ultra-cold atomic ensembles.
  • Extend our ability to use optical tweezers to manipulate ultra-cold atomic ensembles.
  • Increase control of internal and external states and collisions using, for example, Feshbach Resonances and synthetic gauge fields.
  • Simulate atomic analogues of electronic elements such as transistors, resistors, capacitors and resonators for atomtronic circuits.

Theme 2b Quantum manipulation and information


We investigate the manipulation of individual quantum states of physical systems. We push the boundaries of the knowledge of quantum mechanics and we lay the foundations for new technologies for measurement and the manipulation of information. The three year research programme includes:

  • Enhance microwave to optical conversion based on the electro-optic effect and rare earth elements in crystals.
  • Build quantum networks based on optical fibres that transfer quantum states between atomic systems.
  • Form molecules from individually trapped atoms.
  • Study quantum jumps in superconducting qubit systems.
  • Investigate and optimise electron-nuclear coherence in rare earth element bearing crystals.

2018–2020 strategic programmes

Industry engagement

The Dodd-Walls Centre provides:
  • A national network of expertise in photonic and quantum technologies.
  • Photonics engineering consultancy services for industry.
  • Prototyping facilities to accelerate the innovation pipeline.
  • An expanding linkage to existing industry together with advisory services facilitating the development of new start-up companies utilising photonic technologies.

Human capital development

The Dodd-Walls Centre will educate and train outstanding, highly-skilled graduates and staff who are able to drive and support the growth of an innovative, high-tech, and high-value-add industry in New Zealand. The Dodd-Walls Centre educates and trains approximately 120 postgraduate students, either funded directly through CoRE funds or indirectly through external research funding awarded to our investigators. The Dodd-Walls Centre provides:

  • Training and mentoring for employment readiness across academia and industry
  • Postgraduate research opportunities
  • Career pathways and options

Pathways to commercialisation

The industry team comprising key researchers from the Dodd-Walls Centre meets regularly with investigators to identify emerging IP and new technologies that may be commercialized. The team works in cooperation with the tech-transfer offices of university partners. For selected technologies, we utilize in-house prototyping facilities for photonic devices and also utilize partnerships with Southern Photonics Ltd and The University of Auckland’s Photon Factory. As well as supporting start-up company formation, an equally important route for commercialisation is identification of potential technologies that may be suitable for uptake by existing companies. The Dodd-Walls Centre will utilize connections to businesses through local government and the network of our Industry Advisory Board.

Educational outreach programme and Ka Hikitia

The Dodd-Walls Centre actively engages with the public, schools, museums, and other partners to promote the public understanding of science, the role of science in society and people’s lives, and the role that fundamental and applied research plays in developing the economy of New Zealand. The Dodd-Walls Centre is committed to promoting involvement in research and science education for all including Maori and Pasifika and girls and women. Some of the programs and activities that the Dodd-Walls Centre is engaged in during 2018–2020 are:

  • Establishment and extension of dedicated Centres of Illumination within museums such as the Otago Museum at Dunedin and MOTAT, Auckland.
  • Engaging remote and rural communities in hands-on and minds-on science learning. Specific activities include novel and engaging outreach platforms (Lab in a Box and Lab in a Cab).
  • Showcasing the science IP and derived technologies from the Dodd-Walls Centre’s research activities by working with the Industry Team and Centres of Illumination to take advances out into the public sphere.
  • Extending Māori engagement though Science Wānanga and new Mātauranga Māori initiatives.
  • Celebrating key events and anniversaries in the scientific calendar with educational and public outreach efforts.
  • Building of outreach capability by supporting researchers, teachers and parents science communication capacity through the promotion of shared learning, best practice in outreach and developing DIY science kits. We will provide support for teachers and parents through a range of outreach activities to encourage more students to grow an active interest and participation in science throughout their education and life.

Photonics and quantum technologies are billion dollar industries. The DWC gives us the critical mass to contribute at world-class level to this global wave of technology transformation.

Developing Solutions for Industry

The Dodd-Walls Centre provides access to a dedicated team of industry professionals. They solve specific problems, create prototype devices and develop Dodd-Walls research for commercialisation. "Without the Centre of Research Excellence it would never have been possible to pull such a diverse team together, to fund their time and to connect across institutions, disciplines and sectors" Click to read: DWC Collaboration for NZ's Meat Industry. The world of science offers a treasure trove of expertise to solve problems and supercharge innovation in New Zealand industry. But how do companies know where to find the right scientists, or find out if the required expertise exists locally to help them? Click to read: ‘New Ideas: matchmaking scientists with industry.

Enabling the High-Tech Sector

Our mission is to leverage New Zealand's research strengths to train a skilled workforce, support new industries and attract the world's best talent to New Zealand.

Dodd-Walls Development Centres

The Dodd-Walls Development Centres are dedicated to solving specific industry problems, developing “commercialisation ready” prototype systems and providing support to researchers during the commercialisation process. The Dodd-Walls Development Centres are prototyping facilities set up to enable students and investigators to test the market-readiness of technology emerging from DWC research. Taking a technology from the pristine world of the research lab to the harsh reality of the market can be a hard job. To support DWC projects and people through this journey the DWC established the South Island Development Centre in January 2016 and the North Island Development Centre in April 2017. The Development Centres provide access to a dedicated team of professionals who can help researchers navigate this new territory and provide an industry perspective. They can solve specific industry problems, develop "commercialisation ready" prototype systems and provide all-around support to researchers during commercialisation process.

The Lighthouse Platform

The Lighthouse Platform links business, research and government partners for growing high-tech business in New Zealand. The Lighthouse Platform periodically holds events to develop networking between researchers, funders and users of photonic and quantum technologies. The Lighthouse Platform:

  • Develops links between companies and research teams
  • Provides access to technical advice, specialised tools and state-of-the-art equipment
  • Provides assistance in the recruitment of new graduates and other skilled staff
  • Provides a resource base for data and reports on industrial developments from around the world

Proudly sponsored by the Dodd-Walls Centre and supported by Callaghan Innovation and Southern Photonics.

Contact: Professor John Harvey, Director, The Lighthouse Platform.

Industry Team Contact

Shannon Scown |


The Dodd Walls Centre is committed to principles of equity and diversity. These principles are integral to our desire to promote excellence in science and effectively engage with society. Specifically, we aim to:

  • Encourage diversity in our membership, in terms of gender, race, sexuality, disability, age, socio-economic status, and culture
  • Ensure equitable treatment for all our members
  • Ensure that all members feel included in activities of the DWC
  • Take positive action to address inequity and exclusion both within the DWC and the broader physical science community
  • Lead by example

DWC Sponsorship

A condition of DWC sponsoring any event is that diversity and equity are considered in all aspects. We would encourage the organizers to have balanced committees where possible for example and speakers to also reflect that balance. As a condition of sponsorship we also ask that an ethics or code of conduct statement be adopted. Guidance regarding what we require can be obtained from Susan Baikie, email: or phone: 03 479 7973


DWC Carer's Fund


This fund is intended to help caregivers attend conferences that they might not otherwise be able to attend. The full guidelines can be read here.

Gender Equity in the Optics and Photonics Workplace

An SPIE Gender Equity Task Force was formed to identify how the professional environment and culture of the optics and photonics community can better enable equal opportunities, rewards, and recognition for its members, independent of gender. The Task Force developed questions to help characterize and understand gender equity issues in our community. To maximize exposure and responses, these questions were incorporated into the 2016 and 2017 SPIE Global Salary Surveys. These documents summarize the results obtained from the surveys, the intent of which is to inform and initiate real and measurable change in our community: From 2017:

  • Gender Equity in the Optics and Photonics Workplace: Survey Overview, Findings, and Interviews
  • Gender Equity in the Optics and Photonics Workplace: Key Findings from the Gender Equity Task Force Slide Deck

DWC Support for Women in Science

The DWC also supports a variety of initiatives for women in science through partner universities and the Association for Cores. Feel free to contact us email: to discuss any initiatives that would benefit our members.

Extreme Science

This year, DWC has collaborated with the Otago Museum on the Extreme Science II project to bring science to the most remote parts of New Zealand. Over the last two months the team has visited Northland, the West Coast of the South Island and Great Barrier Island!

During the week of 14th – 18th October the DWC, Otago Museum and SPIE Auckland student chapter visited schools across Northland and ran an evening community science fair in Keri Keri Primary school. From the 20th – 26th October science communicators brought DWC light and photonic science and experiments to all the schools between Haast and Hokitika and ran community science evenings in Haast, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef and Harihari.

Andy of the DWC talks about colour changing and fluorescent chemistry to students of Opua school in Northland.

The children of Haast primary school see their bush walk in a whole new light by using diffraction glasses to learn about rainbows and the physics of light.

Shana of SPIE Auckland shows a student how to make a pinhole camera to explore how lenses can be used to manipulate light.

Lab In A Box

To celebrate the anniversary of Captain Cook observing the transit of Mercury Lab in A Box was based in Mercury Bay museum as part of the Tuia 250 Mercury Rising project. Across the 7th – 10th November the outreach team ran school visits and community science shows about the physics and chemistry of stars. Lab in A Box was then moved to Cook’s Beach for an all-night Star Party and to view the transit of Mercury at sunrise on 12th November.

Lab In A Box at the Mercury Bay Museum to celebrate 250 years since Captain Cook made his observations of the transit of Mercury, which gave the area its name!

Over 100 people turned out to view the transit of Mercury through solar telescopes just after sunrise on the 12th November

School sessions and community days were run in LIAB in the lead up to the transit to talk about the physics and chemistry of star.

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.