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The AIP monthly bulletin reaches over 4000 scientists, future scientists and stakeholders. To subscribe to the AIP bulletin, please email aip@aip.org.auTo provide physics news, please email physics@scienceinpublic.com.au. To advertise in the bulletin, see our Jobs page.

News Archive:
Previous AIP bulletins can be found here

Current News:

  • 3 Apr 2024 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Australian Institute of Physics (AIP)  is looking for an early career researcher (ECR) representative to join the national AIP Executive.

    The term of the role is for one year, with the possibly of extension. Responsibilities include:

    • Attend national Executive meetings (currently virtual and monthly).
    • Provide advice on matters related to physics students and postdocs.
    • Work to increase the AIPs engagement with physics ECRs.
    • Assist with creating content for communications to the physics community.

    Please send expressions of interest to aip@aip.org.au with the subject line: ECR representative – “your name”.  Please include a paragraph outlining your interest in the role, and a two-page CV.

  • 3 Apr 2024 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Nominations are now invited for the 2023 David Syme Research Prize. The Australia-wide prize recognises the best original research in Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Geology produced* in Australia during the past two years (1 January 2022 - 31 December 2023). *Produced – e.g. published

    The David Syme Research Prize is managed by the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne.

    Summary details are:
    Value: approx. $10,000, and a medal
    Closing date: 30 April 2024 

    • The prize is made by nomination only. Senior members of the academic or research community such as co-authors or co-researchers, heads of department or deputy vice-chancellors (research) are invited to nominate eligible colleagues. Self-nominations are not accepted.
    • Researchers associated with any Australian university and researchers without university connections are eligible for nomination, noting that the following are not eligible:
      • Professors or researchers who will have attained the position of professor at the time the award is made;
      • Researchers outside universities who will have attained a level of seniority comparable to a university professor at the time the award is made (LEVEL E);
      • Researchers who have not spent the equivalent of at least 5 full years of the last 7 in Australia.
    • The award is made on the basis of the research quality within the discipline and its likely impact and value in the industrial and commercial interests of Australia.

    Full details and the nomination form are available here.

    Enquiries should be directed to: science-internalfunding@unimelb.edu.au

  • 26 Mar 2024 3:40 PM | Anonymous

    The deadline to nominate yourself or someone you know for the following awards has been extended to Monday 15 April:

    Nominate a colleague now, to recognise excellent contributions to Australian physics.


  • 16 Mar 2024 11:14 AM | Anonymous

    The Australian Institute of Physics is looking for an Operations Manager.

    This is a part-time, work-from-home role, with flexible hours.

    Desired skills:

    • Administration
    • Communications
    • Answering membership enquires
    • Basic finance admin
    • Website maintenance

    To find out more, or to arrange a discusison, please contact: executive@aip.org.au 



  • 1 Mar 2024 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    UNSW researchers have demonstrated multiple ways to write quantum information in silicon for more flexible quantum chips design.


    Quantum computing engineers Irene Fernandez de Fuentes and Scientia Professor Andrea Morello. Sydney Quantum Academy


    Quantum computing engineers at UNSW Sydney have shown they can encode quantum information – the special data in a quantum computer – in four unique ways within a single atom, inside a silicon chip.

    The feat could alleviate some of the challenges in operating tens of millions of quantum computing units in just a few square millimetres of a silicon quantum computer chip.

    In a paper published recently in Nature Communications the engineers described how they used the sixteen quantum ‘states’ of an antimony atom to encode quantum information. Antimony is a heavy atom that can be implanted in a silicon chip, replacing one of the existing silicon atoms. It was chosen because its nucleus possesses eight distinct quantum states, plus an electron with two quantum states, resulting in a total of 8 x 2 = 16 quantum states, all within just one atom. Reaching the same number of states using simple quantum bits – or qubits, the basic unit of quantum information – would require manufacturing and coupling four of them.

    Lead author Irene Fernandez de Fuentes says the team, under the guidance of Scientia Professor Andrea Morello, drew on more than a decade’s work that had established different methods of quantum control to show all were possible within the same atom. The antimony atom was implanted in the chip by colleagues at the University of Melbourne, using facilities of the Heavy Ion Accelerators at the Australian National University.

    “First, we showed that we could control the antimony’s electron with an oscillating magnetic field, similar to the breakthrough in 2012 which was the first time a qubit had ever been demonstrated in silicon,” she says.

    “Next we showed that we could use a magnetic field to manipulate the spin of the antimony’s nucleus. This is the standard magnetic resonance method, as used for example in MRI machines in hospitals. The third method was to control the nucleus of the antimony atom with an electric field, something that was discovered by lucky accident in 2020.


    Artistic depiction of the 16 quantum states of the antimony atom, and all the different ways in which one can climb between them. UNSW Sydney


    “And the fourth way was to control both the antimony nucleus and the electron in opposition to each other, using an electric field using so-called flip-flop qubits, which was demonstrated by this team last year.

    “This latest experiment shows that all four of these methods can be used in the same silicon chip using the same architecture.”

    The advantage of having four different methods is that each method gives computer engineers and physicists more flexibility when designing future quantum computing chips.

    For example, magnetic resonance is faster than electric resonance, but the magnetic field spreads widely in space, so it may also affect neighbouring atoms. Electric resonance, while slower, can be applied very locally to select one specific atom without affecting any of its neighbours.

    “With this big antimony atom, we have the complete flexibility of how we integrate it with a control structure over a silicon chip,” Prof. Morello says.

    Why this matters

    The quantum computers of the future will have millions, if not billions of qubits working simultaneously to crunch numbers and simulate models in minutes what would take today’s supercomputers hundreds or even thousands of years to complete. While some teams around the world have made progress with large numbers of qubits, such as Google’s 70 qubit model or IBM’s version which has more than 1000, they require much larger spaces for their qubits to work without interfering with one another.

    But the approach that Prof. Morello and other colleagues have taken at UNSW is to design quantum computing using technology already in use to make conventional computers. While progress may be slower in terms of numbers of working qubits, the advantage of using silicon will mean being able to have millions of qubits in a square millimetre of chip.

    “We are investing in a technology that is harder, slower, but for very good reasons, one of them being the extreme density of information that it'll be able to handle,” says Prof. Morello.

    “It's all very well to have 25 million atoms in a square millimetre, but you have to control them one by one. Having the flexibility to do it with magnetic fields, or electric fields, or any combination of them, will give us lots of options to play with when scaling up the system.”

    Back to the lab

    Next, the group will use the large computational space of the antimony atom to perform quantum operations that are much more sophisticated than those afforded by plain qubits. They plan to encode a ‘logical’ qubit within the atom – a qubit built upon more than two quantum levels, to get enough redundancy to detect and correct errors as they occur.

    “This is the next frontier for practical, useful quantum computer hardware” says Prof. Morello. “Being able to build an error-corrected logical qubit within a single atom will be a tremendous opportunity for scaling up silicon quantum hardware to the point where it becomes commercially useful”.

    This article was published by UNSW Sydney Newsroom.

  • 6 Feb 2024 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Order of Australia awards recognise and celebrate Australians, meritorious awards, and recognition for distinguished and conspicuous service. The AIP would like to congratulate the following AIP members for their accomplishments.


    Revealing how collisions with rocks shape planets:

    The 2022 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer A/Prof Katarina Miljkovic OAM was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for "service to science as a researcher". Katarina was Scientist of the Year in 2019 and UNESCO Women in Science Fellow in 2018.



    X-ray scattering guru and a 'godfather' of the Aus synchrotron:

    AIP Life Member Emeritus Prof Dudley Creagh AM was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia “for significant service to science, and to tertiary education”, including contributions to X-ray scattering and the development of the Australian National Beamline Facility at Tsukuba, Japan, and the planning of, and the design of the Spectroscopy beamline for, Australian synchrotron.



    The art and science of sundials:

    Former AIP member Dr Margaret Folkard OAM was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to gnomonics, and to the community. Margaret was a research physicist while co-founding and co-directing Sundials Australia, designing and constructing sundials across Australia.



    Former AIP member John Ward OAM was awarded an (Honorary) Order of Australia Medal for service to gnomonics, as co-founder and co-director of Sundials Australia with Dr Margaret Folkard OAM.

    (Photo credit: Khama Reid)



  • 5 Feb 2024 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    Each year, the AIP recognises excellence in research, leadership, and outreach.

    If you have recently completed postgraduate research, are a woman in leadership, are furthering physics education, or have made outstanding contributions to physics in other ways, consider nominating for the 2024 AIP Awards.

    The closing dates and awards available for 2024 are:

    Nominate now.


  • 30 Nov 2023 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    The 2023 AIP Photography Competition, run by the ACT branch but open to entries Australia wide, concluded in October.

    The winners have been decided! Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who participated.

    Grand Prize and University Student Prize: Ivan Toftul

    The Grand Prize was awarded to Ivan Toftul for a work on birefringence. Looking through a linear polariser, you see cuts of tape stuck on a laptop screen in the shape of a heart. Because plastic molecules are elongated, the tape exhibits birefringent properties: ordinary and extraordinary rays exit the plastic in or out of phase depending on wavelength and thickness resulting in eclectic colours that form an image.

    The University Student Prize was also awarded to Ivan Toftul for a depiction of the nanostructure of a metamaterial via diffraction. Structuring material on a nanoscale opens up great possibilities in modern photonics. While it is not possible to see the actual design with the naked eye, the clusters of different metasurfaces create beautiful diffraction patterns.

    Outstanding Photo Award: Jared Landau

    Jared's photo won The Outstanding Photo Award, featuring the planets imaged from his own backyard. This image shows Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus scaled according to their apparent sizes as seen from Earth.

    This was captured from Jared’s backyard in suburban Melbourne with an 8" Newtonian telescope. It highlights the incredible capabilities available to modern astronomers. This type of detail would have been unthinkable to amateur observers even a few decades ago! The fact that high-quality astrophysical data can be collected from the comfort of your own home (with relatively modest equipment) was a huge motivator in Jared’s decision to study physics.

    School Student Prize: Kate Kristiansen

    The School Student Prize was awarded to Kate Kristiansen, who photographed capillary waves on water. 
    Kate chose to photograph waves because of how important they are in physics. They come up in light waves, sounds waves and even in the foundation of quantum mechanics and string theory. Kate wanted to capture one of the simplest forms of waves – and understand the foundation of waves – before learning the depth and complexity of more intricate waves.


  • 30 Nov 2023 1:48 PM | Anonymous

    … all while discovering how the Universe evolved, how galaxies form and where the elements come from.

    Around the world, research agencies are struggling to achieve gender parity.

    A paper published in Nature Astronomy reports how a national Australian astronomy centre achieved equal numbers of women and men using science.

    “We used research in sociology and psychology to develop evidence-based strategies, and to create a supportive and positive culture in our Centre,” says Professor Lisa Kewley, the founding director of ASTRO 3D, the Australian Research Council Centre for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions, and the lead author on the paper. Professor Kewley now leads the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian.

    “Our success offers a model to other organisations, especially in the physical sciences where participation rates for women continue to be well behind the biological sciences, and where gender equality has remained stubbornly low,” says Professor Emma Ryan-Weber, the current Director of ASTRO 3D.

    “Astronomy is a gateway science,” says Professor Ryan-Weber. “Students are fascinated by the question of what’s out there in space and how the elements that fused inside stars end up being the oxygen we breathe. I am proud that our centre is providing a diverse range of role models for the next generation – encouraging them to take up maths and physics, which opens up career opportunities not just in astronomy but across the physical sciences and a range of technical industries, such as data science.”

    “Astronomy is regarded as leading in gender equity in the physical sciences. But when we established ASTRO 3D in 2017, I looked at the numbers and realised that on current trends it would take more than 60 years to reach gender parity,” says Professor Kewley.

    Across Australia, women make up 30 to 35% of PhD astronomy students, and less than 20% at the highest professorial level. “And women are more than three times more likely to leave the profession. Sixty-two per cent of women and 17% of men leave astronomy at the junior postdoctoral levels. We had to do better,” Professor Kewley says.

    “Our program was implemented between December 2017 and January 2023. In that time, ASTRO 3D went from 38% women to 50%,” she says.

    The key steps included:

    • setting diversity targets with regular monitoring of progress
    • selecting a diverse set of team leaders
    • in-person diversity training for all organisation members
    • ensuring 50% women on postdoctoral selection committees
    • ensuring 50% women on postdoctoral short-lists.

    “Diverse leadership is crucial for improving the diversity within teams,” says Professor Stuart Wyithe, Director of the Research School for Astronomy & Astrophysics, The Australian National University.

    “Women-led teams recruited and retained more women postdoctoral researchers, attracted more women students, and worked with more women collaborators, while the converse was true for men-led teams,” he says.

    “The ASTRO 3D program reached a tipping point when there were 40% women in the organisation as supervisors, mentors and role models for students. After that, student enrolments by women in the Centre accelerated. The gains were not made at the expense of men, as the membership grew over this period,” Professor Kewley says.

    Recruiting women is one thing, but retaining them is just as important and ASTRO 3D introduced a range of policies to make sure their staff felt welcome and valued. These included a focus on leadership development, promotion of work-life balance, partner recruitment, as well as pathways for reporting misconduct.

    In all categories, larger percentages of women were retained than men.

    Among students, 55 to 58% women were retained compared with 37 to 48% men and a larger percentage of women postdoctoral researchers were retained in the Centre (67 to 70% women and 55 to 69% men).

    “This suggests that the presence of women supervisors and role models is critical for attracting and retaining women.”

    Professor Ryan-Weber , who is also an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology, says the paper clearly paves the way for other research centres to achieve similar results.

    “Our researchers have made phenomenal discoveries in understanding how elements, stars, galaxies and the gas that surrounds them evolved from the early Universe to today. Their skills have translated to international success in academia and to solve real-world problems in industry.

    “But the greatest legacy of ASTRO 3D may be as a role model for better diversity in research,” she says.

    (Story from ASTRO 3D).



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