Focus Sessions

Structured light: recent advancement and perspectives

Structured light has emerged as a significant and vibrant area of research over the past two decades, fuelled by advancements in spatial light modulators that offer an unprecedented million degrees of freedom, as well as metamaterials. This field can be broadly categorized into the merge of two research areas: transverse shaping, which involves wavefront shaping, and longitudinal shaping, which focuses on spectral pulse shaping. The Australian and New Zealand physics and photonics community has made noteworthy contributions to the growth of this research domain. To cite just a few: spatial mode multiplexing for optical communications, advanced light-matter interactions utilizing optical tweezers, control of light propagation in multimode optical fibres for communications and imaging, dispersion compensation, and the development of metamaterial structures for beam shaping, among others.

This focus session will enable experts in the field to present their last research results, as well as sharing their perspectives. This session also aims to facilitate collaboration among researchers from these communities. We aim to create valuable opportunities for collaboration within the photonics community of Australia and New Zealand.  


Dr. Mickael Mounaix
The University of Queensland

Dr. Haoran Ren
Monash University

Quantum Machine Learning: Opportunities and Challenges

The focus session aims to cover recent research advancements in the field of quantum machine learning from both Australian researchers as well as international community. The focused session will consist of 1-2 invited talks from eminent senior researchers with exceptional track record and about 4-6 contributed talks from early career researchers and PhD students. Any additional contributed abstract submissions will be offered poster presentations. The focused session will also include a 60-minute tutorial session at the beginning to introduce the fundamentals of quantum machine learning, providing a high-level summary of current state-of-the-art in the field, summarising key challenges and opportunities.

The meteoric rise of artificial intelligence in recent years has seenx machine learning (ML) methods become ubiquitous in modern science, technology, and industry. Concurrently, the emergence of programmable quantum computers, coupled with the expectation that large-scale fault tolerant machines will follow in the near to medium-term future, has led to much speculation about the prospect of quantum machine learning, namely ML solutions which take advantage of quantum properties in order to outperform their classical counterparts. Indeed, quantum machine learning is widely considered as one of the frontrunner use cases for quantum computing.

The aim of the proposed focused session is to bring the Australian research community together and create an environment for stimulating discussions and exchange of ideas. This will generate new collaborations, leading to further advancement of the quantum machine learning field. The focused session will appeal to an audience with multi-disciplinary backgrounds including quantum physics, quantum information science, quantum computing, computer science, and computational physics.


Dr. Muhammad Usman
CSIRO’s Data61 and The University of Melbourne

Prof. Jingbo Wang
The University of Western Australia

Gamma-Ray and Radio Synergies in Astroparticle Physics

Gamma rays and radio emission are intimately tied via fundamental particle physics processes operating in extreme astrophysical sources. Such sources are often associated with compact objects such as black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs, as well as environments driven by a active massive stars. Gamma rays and radio emission can also be linked via beyond-standard-model particle physics motivated by the search to understand dark matter and other early-Universe ‘cosmic relics’. This Focus Session, promoted by the joint AIP/ASA Group for Astroparticle Physics (GAP), is motivated by the two world-leading facilities in these two fields now under construction – the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) gamma-ray observatory, and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) for radio astronomy. Australia. Australia is a major partner in the SKA and has influential roles in the CTA. This Focus Session will help prepare Australia’s involvements in both facilities to optimise the science return from joint programs which will be critical to ensure success of the Southern hemisphere observational programs of these facilities. We note this session is perfectly in line with GAP’s mission to close the ‘gap’ between particle physics and astronomy in Australia.


Prof. Gavin Rowell
University of Adelaide

Quantum and Non-Conventional Metaoptics

Quantum and Non-Conventional Metaoptics are two cutting-edge topics that have shown great promise in manipulating light wavefronts, with numerous applications in quantum communication systems, imaging processing, holographic projections, and spectral filtering. These fields have seen significant growth in Australia, led by many prominent research groups. Given the importance of both fields and Australia’s substantial contributions, discussions on the latest developments during the conference are expected to be both engaging and intellectually stimulating. Our main goal for this session is to facilitate and foster collaboration among researchers from these fields and other related areas. We believe it will benefit a broad spectrum of scientists, from early-career researchers and newcomers to distinguished experts in these fields. By uniting these communities, we aim to create valuable opportunities for innovation within Australia’s photonics community and beyond. Attendees can expect to gain valuable insights and new perspectives from our list of potential invited speakers, including established experts and promising young scientists. Our tentative list of invited speakers will reflect a diverse balance across different career stages, geographic locations, and gender. 


Dr. Yana Izdebskaya
The Australian National University

Dr. Jinyong Ma
The Australian National University

Dr. Litty Thekkekara
RMIT University

Soft matter for environmental science

Soft matter, by essence, is a domain of interdisciplinary research. The structure and high deformability of soft materials such as polymers, gels, colloids, grain packings, and membranes make them highly responsive to their surrounding environment. The understanding of these systems is often enlightened by ideas from fluid and solid mechanics, statistical physics, thermodynamics, geometry, or even topology. Moreover, remarkable discoveries have been made in the experimental investigation of soft “living” materials such as populations of cells or planktons with implications in non-equilibrium physics, physicochemistry, microbiology etc.

This focus session will showcase recent advances in the physical understanding of soft living systems, hydrodynamic quantum analogues, textiles, advanced polymer design, environmental biotechnology, granular materials, hydrodynamic flows at interface, topological soft materials, and more. This interdisciplinary session should appeal to a diverse community of Australian researchers from various backgrounds and disciplines.

The highlighted themes are particularly relevant at a time of concern about building a more sustainable world. Indeed, recent research in soft matter contributes to mitigating our impact on the environment, discovering/rediscovering ways to produce and use smart soft materials, and better understanding complex ecological systems.


Dr. Nicolas Francois
The Australian National University

Dr. Suzie Protiere
The Australian National University

& D’Alembert Lab France

Quantum control

Australia has a very active community of theory, experimental, and commercial research and development in quantum control. This field supports other areas of quantum information science and technology, such as developing quantum computers, communication networks and sensing applications. In addition, novel theoretical methods developed by the quantum control community support the fundamental understanding of noise mechanisms and computational challenges related to simulating quantum systems.


A/Prof. Alberto Peruzzo
RMIT University

Dr. Akram Youssry
RMIT University

Dr. Arinta Auza
RMIT University

Fundamental Physics with Anyons and its Applications to Quantum Computing

Anyons is the name of a class of particles which are neither bosons nor fermions. The exchange of identical particles in Quantum Mechanics is described by the symmetric group, only allowing even and odd permutations corresponding to bosons (such as photons) and fermions (such as electrons). With the discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect, it was established that there can be exotic quasiparticles in solid-state systems which obey fractional statistics, referred to as anyons. Today they are believed to also exist in other platforms such as frustrated quantum magnets and topological superconductors. In the past decade, anyons have also become a prime topic in quantum information theory:

(1) Certain anyons (“Majorana zero modes”) can be combined into topological quantum bits, a strategy pursued by Microsoft for building a quantum computer platform.

(2) So-called surface codes utilize anyons to create fault-tolerant quantum-computing schemes.

This focus session brings together the most active researchers from Australian universities within this field.


A/Prof. Stephan Rachel
University of Melbourne

Coherences and Correlations in Australia: Celebrating 60 years of modern quantum optics (joint with AIP)

Exactly six decades ago, Roy Glauber published a series of papers that formulated what became the modern theory of quantum optics. His ideas and their experimental realisations are now central to every textbook, lab report, and discussion around the meaning of optical coherence, characteristics of lasers, or claims of the quantum nature of novel light sources. And won him the Nobel Prize in 2005. 

This Focus Session will commence with a tutorial lecture to help the audience appreciate how Glauber’s work changed the understanding of light. It will then highlight applications of these theories, with several talks on modern techniques of measuring the first- and second-order coherences of light, new platforms offering novel optical sources, and their applications for quantum sensing, communication and computing.


Dr. Mikolaj Schmidt
Macquarie University

Memorial session for Prof. Jim Piper

In this Special Session, we look back on the life and achievements of Prof James (Jim) Piper (1947-2023). Jim was a pioneer of applied laser physics in Australia. He conducted internationally recognised research in many forms of lasers as well as applications of lasers in medicine, sensing, and materials processing.   

We will hear from some of Jim’s many PhD students and collaborators on Jim’s legacy and his influence.


Prof. David Lancaster

University of South Australia