Thinking small for greater good

A Nanoscale quantum devices developed by Dr David Reilly and his team

Nanoscale quantum devices, such as this one developed by Dr David Reilly and his team in the School of Physics, will be a major focus of the new Australian Institute for Nanoscience.

Tiny nano-devices could revolutionise our world, and a University of Sydney initiative will give us a prominent role in this transformation.

Size matters when it comes to nanoscience, and the smaller, the better. With the creation of the Australian Institute for Nanoscience, the University will soon be leading the charge across this exciting frontier.

Nanoscience has the potential to deliver more energy-efficient communications and advances in medical imaging and treatment of diseases through nano-devices based on quantum physics and photonics.

Professor Clive Baldock, Head of the School of Physics and the project's academic director, describes the development of the new institute as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for Sydney, and is helping to steer the $110-million project, which was partly funded by a grant from the federal government’s Education Investment Fund.

Like the institute, nanoscience is still in its infancy, and "basic experiments still need to be done into further understanding how nature works, and that will eventually lead to outcomes like nanoscience and future computing devices", says Dr David Reilly, a senior lecturer in physics.

Institute researchers could also work on advancing the internet with speedier broadband and use new astronomical instruments and satellites to better understand our universe.

Building work on the institute is due to begin in 2012, and it is set to open in 2014. Ultimately it will be a "unique facility in Australia", says Professor Baldock, which houses more than 100 new researchers and 120 new PhD researchers, as well as 50 visiting researchers to enable more effective international collaboration.