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Self-assembled photonics


Self-Assembled photonics is fast becoming one of the leading photonic fabrication technologies since it is potentially compatible with fibre and integrated optics, including silicon photonics – this effectively creates numerous research opportunities spanning materials research, device application and novel hybrid photonic technologies.


Honorary Professor John Canning, Dr Mattias Aslund, Dr Kevin Cook.

Research location

School of Chemistry

Program type



Several projects exist to be involved in the exploration, development and implementation of self-assembled materials onto existing silica and silicon platforms for photonic devices and applications. Two key project areas are:

  1. Medical Applications: Self-assembled supramolecular coatings on silica nanoparticles which themselves self-assembled into complex mesostructures designed for specific applications. For example, where additional species, such as drugs and flourophores for diagnostics, are embedded in the mesostructures. A finite out-diffusion time makes this ideal vehicle for targeted medication and diagnostics – the appropriate coating, such as with iron porphyrins, removes cytoxicity issues and increases blood compatibility.
  2. Organic/Silica/Silicon Hybrid Optical Switches: Self-assembled nano and micro wires and films for nonlinear and waveguide switching applications on common photonic platforms are possible using supramolecular structures with high nonlinearity and optical robustness. Continuing advances are increasingly making these the preferred route to practical CMOS compatible optical switches.
  3. Self-Assembled Chemical Sensors inside Optical Fibres: self-assembling application-specific structures can be grown inside the channels of structured optical fibres to enhance sensitivity. A molecular species is chosen to both self-assemble and to capture target species such as the hydrocarbons in oil bores and other environmental parameters.

Additional information

These topics are sufficiently significant and challenging to satisfy any PhD and Masters Student and can be scaled accordingly to suit. There are also great opportunities for Honor's students in these areas. Students will learn genuine interdisciplinary research involving materials, the physics of self-assembly, chemical interactions, optical waveguides, photonics, and instruments (including the use of advanced facilities across campus).

There are also abundant opportunities for travel and for building life long networks and friends as well as collaboration both locally and internationally. Those with talent and ambition will benefit greatly.

Please visit the University website to explore funding opportunities and consider the availability and suitability of existing scholarships at iPL (

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)
You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1169

Other opportunities with Honorary Professor John Canning