Three University of Sydney PhD students are the recipients of the 2019 John Makepeace Bennett Postgraduate Scholarships.

Named in honour ACS’ founding President, John Makepeace Bennett, the ACS-funded scholarships are offered to post-graduate students at the university’s Nanoscience Institute.

Bennett was Australia’s first professor of computing science when he was appointed by the University of Sydney as Professor of Physics (Computing) in 1961. Bennett passed away in December 2010, aged 89.

Opened in April 2016, the institute specialises in quantum science and the study of nanoscale technologies, those involving structures measuring around one millionth of a millimetre. The institute is also working to build the world’s first quantum computer.

“It's a fantastic initiative,” Professor Benjamin Eggleton, Director of the Nano Institute, said about the scholarship. “It's great support for our PhD students, they're really dynamic students working at the frontier of nanoscience and information.”

“I really appreciate the support from ACS and I think we're going to see great things happen over the next couple of years.”

The three 2019 scholarship winners follow the six awareded last year and another six in the scheme’s inaugural year.

Scholarship winner, Xiaoyi Tian, said, “It's a great honour to win this scholarship and it will help me be more focused on my research.”

Xiaoyi’s doctorate explores the use of miniature integrated microwave signal processors and joins two other winners. Mitchell Austin, whose work investigates the fabrication of nano-sized sensors, and Debin Men, who is researching phased array antennas.

Professor Xiaoke Yi, who is the supervisor of all three students' doctorates, added: “I'm very proud to be the supervisor for these students. I appreciate the scholarship, it's great to give the students lots of encouragement. Their research covers different areas of high-performance computing, signal processing and faster speeds of processing that meets society's needs.”

“I hope this sort of support gives them wings to fly higher.”

The three students awarded this year's scholarship and their areas of research are:

Xiaoyi Tian

Thesis title: Integrated microwave photonic signal processing and sensing

Description: Performing microwave photonic signal processing and sensing based on silicon photonic devices could offer competitive advantages of compact device footprint, low fabrication cost, low power consumption, COMS compatibility and high robustness, holding great promise for future signal processing and sensing systems.

The project aims both to develop novel and high-performance integrated microwave photonic signal processors and subsystems to effectively handle high-speed and broadband signals for advanced communication systems and to design and implement novel nanoscale sensors with high sensitivity and high resolution for various sensing purposes like temperature, mechanical pressure, ultrasound, magnetic field and chemicals.

Mitchell Austin

Title: Silicon photonic nanostructures for photonic sensing applications

Description: The research is focused on the fabrication of novel silicon photonic based nanostructures for sensing applications. The use silicon photonics provides unique desirable properties for sensing applications due to the combination of a high refractive index, small size and CMOS compatibility. To achieve photonic sensing devices at the nanoscale with excellent performance using silicon photonics, the fabrication process must be investigated to fulfil future sensing requirements.

Debin Meng

Title: Silicon photonics and phased array antenna

Description: Silicon photonics is one of the most important technology in communication field. It combines the advantages of both the silicon technology and the photonic technology to achieve high-speed data processing with light on a small silicon-made chip. LIDAR is a major technology that can be used for self-driving cars, robots and other measuring instruments. Optical phased array is a promising alternative for LIDAR due to its robustness and high tuning speed for free-space beam steering. The project is to achieve optical phased array with high directionality and large field of view.