Seeing with Diamond: from Quantum Photonics to Bionics Eyes

Photo of Steven Prawer

Professor Steven Prawer

Professor, School of Physics, University of Melbourne, Australia

June 8, 2016 18:30 - 19:30

Building T / Room T129, Algonquin College

IEEE Ottawa Joint Chapter Seminar: Photonics Chapter, ComSoc Chapter, EMBS Chapter, and ACN Group

Parking: Free P8/P9


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Diamond, nanodiamond, graphene and other carbon allotropes are emerging as a new class of materials with superior properties for use in quantum photonics, secure communications and bionics. Quantum sensing devices take advantage of the remarkable properties of optical centres in diamond which allow manipulation and control of a single electron spin at room temperature. These same centres can be used for quantum computing and quantum key distribution for ultrasecure communications. For bionics these materials display excellent charge injection and recording properties making them particularly suitable for use as electrodes in brain-machine interfaces. In addition, diamond based materials have been shown to provide an outstanding, long-lasting hermetic encapsulation for sensitive electronic components implanted into the body. Many interesting applications are now possible using the quantum properties of diamond to obtain new insight into biological processes.

Taking advantage of these properties has required the development of a suite of fabrication and characterization tools specifically designed to make devices from these materials. Many of the attractive properties such as chemical stability and extreme hardness (for diamond) mitigate against the use of more standard fabrication techniques used for silicon and other semiconductors. In this talk I will review the toolbox that we have developed to fabricate diamond based quantum photonic devices for communications and sensing and high-density, hermetic electrode arrays, specifically for use in a high acuity retinal implant designed to restore vision to patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. I will also review our progress in methods for making flexible electrodes based on graphene 'ropes' and solving the problem of how to insert these flexible electrodes into neural tissue. Looking towards the future, we envisage carbon allotropes as being the basis on which to build the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, which could not only provide unprecedented new insights into brain function, but also allow for the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy, chronic pain, Parkinson's, and drug resistant depression, and the neural control of prosthesis for severely disabled.


Professor Steven Prawer has just completed his term as director of the Melbourne Materials Institute (MMI), a multidisciplinary research initiative dedicated to using advanced materials science and technology to address problems of global importance. He has developed the technology for the fabrication of practical, diamond-based quantum devices, such as, for example, single-photon sources for secure communications using quantum key distribution. Now, as part of the Bionic Vision Australia project, he is developing a diamond based high density electrode for neural and retinal stimulation and a diamond based technology for the encapsulation of the integrated device. Professor Prawer has published over 300 papers (H index 44), has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards and in 2010 was elected to the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Last updated June 8, 2016