Category Archives: News Archive

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.

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

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.

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

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



Professor Artur Ekert’s free public talk “Is There a Perfect Cipher?”

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. – Click here

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

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.

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

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.”  – Click here

Leading the way to terahertz whispering-gallery mode photonics

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.



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

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.

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

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

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

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!

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

DWC Investigators – 2017 Marsden Funding Round Success!

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)

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

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!

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DWC PhD student Ryan Thomas presented with Hatherton Award

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).

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Ag at Otago/DWC Enterprise & Innovation Workshop

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.

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Interview with “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern

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.

Click to listen

Science Educators off to Chathams

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”.

Click here to listen

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

[email protected] 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 [email protected] Research Theme. Anybody who is interested in attending these workshops should contact Emeritus Professor Frank Griffin, Director [email protected][email protected] 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.

DWC Scientists Team up with New Zealand Industry

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

Congratulations DWC Associate Investigator Harald Schwefel!

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

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.


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Scientists discover extreme geothermal activity in South Island

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.

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

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.



DWC scientists control atom

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.

DWC scientists control atom

New gas sensing using photonic technology

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

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

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

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.

Event Site