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Australian professor develops dual-tech laser for defence and quantum applications

A breakthrough in semiconductor technology

An Australian professor has developed a new semiconductor technology that can produce high-performance lasers for defence and quantum applications. Professor Miftar Ganija, from the University of New South Wales, has created a novel method of fabricating gallium nitride (GaN) lasers using remote plasma chemical vapour deposition (RPCVD).

GaN lasers are widely used in defence, quantum and biotech sectors, as they can emit light at various wavelengths, from ultraviolet to infrared. However, conventional methods of making GaN lasers are expensive, complex and inefficient, limiting their potential.

Professor Ganija’s RPCVD technique overcomes these challenges by using a plasma source to deposit thin layers of GaN on a substrate at low temperatures and pressures. This results in lower resistivity, higher efficiency and better quality of the GaN layers, as well as more flexibility in designing the laser structure and wavelength.

A dual-use technology with multiple benefits

Professor Ganija’s RPCVD technology is not only a breakthrough for the semiconductor industry, but also a dual-use technology that can benefit both defence and civilian sectors. According to Professor Ganija, his GaN lasers can be used for various applications, such as:

  • Laser weapons: GaN lasers can provide high-power and high-energy beams that can damage or destroy targets at long distances. They can also be integrated with other systems, such as radar, to enhance situational awareness and accuracy.
  • Quantum computing: GaN lasers can generate entangled photons, which are essential for quantum information processing and communication. They can also be used to manipulate and read out quantum bits, or qubits, which are the basic units of quantum computing.
  • Biomedical imaging: GaN lasers can produce high-resolution and high-contrast images of biological tissues and organs, as well as detect and treat diseases. They can also be used for optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is a non-invasive technique that can measure the thickness and structure of the retina.

Australian professor develops dual-tech laser for defence and quantum applications

A collaboration with industry and government

Professor Ganija’s RPCVD technology has been developed in collaboration with industry and government partners, such as BluGlass Limited, a NSW-based manufacturer of GaN lasers, and the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the research arm of the Australian Department of Defence.

BluGlass has acquired the exclusive licence to commercialise Professor Ganija’s RPCVD technology, and has been working with him to scale up the production and improve the performance of the GaN lasers. BluGlass has also secured several contracts and grants from the Australian and US governments to develop and demonstrate its GaN lasers for defence and quantum applications.

DSTG has been supporting Professor Ganija’s research since 2017, and has provided him with access to its facilities and expertise. DSTG has also been testing and evaluating the GaN lasers for various defence scenarios, such as laser countermeasures, directed energy weapons and quantum key distribution.

A recognition of excellence and innovation

Professor Ganija’s RPCVD technology has been recognised as a leading example of innovation and excellence in the defence, dual-use and space sectors. He has recently won the InnovationAus 2023 Award for Excellence in Defence, Dual-Use and Space, which was sponsored by Q-CTRL, an Australian quantum computing company.

The award was presented to Professor Ganija by Q-CTRL founder and CEO Professor Michael Biercuk, who praised his work as “groundbreaking” and “world-leading”. Professor Ganija said he was honoured and humbled by the award, and thanked his collaborators and supporters for their contributions.

He also said he hoped his RPCVD technology would inspire more Australian researchers and entrepreneurs to pursue innovation and excellence in the defence, dual-use and space sectors, and to create solutions that can benefit both the nation and the world.

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