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UniSA awarded $1.8m contract for laser technology research

The University of South Australia has won a US $ 1.8 million federal government contract to help develop technologies for Australia’s next generation of high power lasers for the defense and manufacturing sectors.

UniSA laser technology professor David Lancaster will lead the three-year project funded by the Defense Science and Technology Group (DSTG) in partnership with the University of Adelaide.

Professor Lancaster, who heads one of the country’s leading laser and photonics manufacturing research laboratories at UniSA, said he will use the funds to build sovereign manufacturing capabilities and bring Australia up to speed with other developed nations.

“High power lasers are increasingly being used in defense and manufacturing, but despite a long history of laser development in Australia, our technology is still relatively immature compared to other countries,” said Professor Lancaster.

“There is a significant gap between research results and the needs of our defense industry, so Australia had to buy this technology from other countries, which is quite restrictive as most nations severely restrict their laser exports.”

Over the next three years, Professor Lancaster plans to build a new high-power laser that combines several smaller lasers and fine-tunes the manufacturing process so that it is cheaper and more efficient.

“In the past, I’ve worked on lasers that take years to make and cost millions of dollars. I think it’s more important to put years of effort into developing the technology and manufacturing processes to build many miniature and safer lasers that cost hundreds of dollars each. That is our goal. “

UniSA’s Laser Physics and Photonics Laboratory will manufacture the lasers, and the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensors will develop the special laser glass.

Professor Lancaster concluded that Australia’s universities and defense sectors need to be more integrated in order to build sovereign independence in laser technology.

“The reason UniSA and the University of Adelaide were selected for this project is because our miniature laser technology and manufacturing processes are world leaders and will advance DSTG’s laser systems program.”

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