The centre is led by co-directors Professor Benjamin Eggleton from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics and UNSW’s Professor Justin Gooding from the School of Chemistry.
The NSW Government announce plans for the centre last September saying it would invest $700,000 to help address significant challenges – from the environmental impacts of mining and gas extraction to improving quality of life for the aging population. The two universities each contributed $125,000 to establish the NSSN.
The Government said the NSSN would bring together experts in chemistry, physics, nanotechnology and ICT to craft cutting-edge solutions to problems in agriculture, the environment, healthcare, minerals and resources, and transport.
Dr Susan Pond, company director and adjunct professor of the University of Sydney, was named as chair the network’s steering committee. She said the committee would “provide guidance on the strategic direction of the network and its projects as well as create linkages between academia, industry and government.”
Five flagship smart sensor projects
At the time of the announcement, the Government said the network would focus its initial research efforts on five flagship projects:
- inexpensive, portable and wirelessly-connected sensors to identify gas emissions in the resources industry;
- low-cost, compact optical sensor technologies that can be built into smartphones or other devices to monitor a person’s key vital signs, potentially revolutionising healthcare and aged care;
- furthering breakthrough UNSW research to make ion-mobility mass spectrometers, the technology used in security screening at airports, more portable and broaden their scope of application in areas such as the environment and health;
- a broad-reaching approach for turning commercially successful glucose biosensors used for diabetes management into sensors to detect proteins of biomedical interest for other diseases;
- robust monitors that detect native animals, such as koalas, in their natural habitat – and use data processing to identify and track species. Such technologies have the potential to transform conservation of native wildlife but could also be used in efarming.
The Government said the animal monitoring project would draw on the expertise of Professor Salah Sukkarieh in the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, using data analytics and intelligent systems to develop facial recognition monitors for Koalas for deployment in NSW.