Defence’s high-powered laser capability has been given an edge, with breakthrough research recognised at the 2017 DST Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia.
Associate professor Richard Mildren of Macquarie University received the prize for his innovative research, which expands on current laser technology through the use of diamond crystals.
Professor Mildren overcame the power output limitations of current laser technology by using diamond, due to its exceptionally high thermal conductivity and heat dissipating qualities.
The resulting high-energy beam enables the laser to be more tightly focused on the target, reducing interaction times and increasing range.
DST Group says high-powered lasers lend themselves to many defence applications, including protection against missile threats. They are also useful in remote sensing, bio imaging, medicine, quantum science and the management of space debris.
Wavelengths enabled by diamond technology also have the advantage of optimising beam transmission through the atmosphere while reducing eye hazard for Defence personnel.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne congratulated Professor Mildren and said not only does Mildren's research demonstrate Australia's leading expertise in laser technology, but that the innovation gave Defence a capability edge by extending laser power and wavelength range for military applications targeted at remote threats.
"High energy lasers will enable Australia and its allies to address increasing threats from missile technology, low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles and improvised explosive devices," said Minister Payne.
Chief Defence Scientist Dr Alex Zelinsky said breakthroughs such as the diamond laser technology were the result of cutting-edge research being done in Australian universities.
"The government’s drive to engage industry and academia in developing Defence capability is paying dividends," said Dr Zelinsky.
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The Eureka Prize, sponsored by DST, is awarded annually for outstanding science or technology that has developed, or has the potential to develop, innovative solutions for Australia’s defence or national security.