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Defense Manufacturing South Australia

UniSA to develop laser tech for defence and manufacturing sectors

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The University of South Australia (UniSA) has been awarded a $1.8 million contract by the Commonwealth Government, allowing them to develop technology that will support next-gen high-powered lasers for both defence and manufacturing sectors. 

UniSA’s Professor of Laser Engineering David Lancaster, who heads one of the country’s leading laser and photonics manufacturing research laboratories, will lead the three-year project that will help build sovereign manufacturing capability and bring Australia up to speed with other developed nations.  

“High-powered lasers are increasingly being used in defence and manufacturing, but despite a long history of developing lasers in Australia, our technology is still relatively immature compared to other countries,” Professor Lancaster said. 

“There is a substantial gap between the research outputs and the needs of our defence industry, so Australia has had to buy this technology from other countries, which is quite restrictive because most nations severely limit their exports of lasers.” 

Under the project, Professor Lancaster plans to build a new type of high-powered laser that combines multiple smaller lasers with the aim of making the manufacturing process cheaper and more efficient. 

The project is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) under the Commonwealth Government’s Next Generation Technologies Fund and in collaboration with the University of Adelaide. 

UniSA’s Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Lab is expected to manufacture the lasers for the project. Meanwhile, the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensors are tasked to develop the specialist laser glass. 

Professor Lancaster stated that Australia’s universities and defence sector should be more closely integrated in order to build sovereign independence in laser technology. 

“The reason that UniSA and the University of Adelaide have been selected for this project is that our miniature laser technology and manufacturing processes are world-leading and will supercharge the DSTG’s laser system program,” he said. 

Aside from the Defence, the project will also greatly benefit the manufacturing sector since high-powered lasers are often preferred for cutting, shaping and welding industrial materials with high precision. 

Professor David Lancaster has previously initiated and led the program to develop local capability in high power fibre lasers, Directed Infrared Counter-Measure (DIRCM) lasers and DIRCM systems, which was used by the Australian Defence Industry to manufacture the F-MURLIN laser to protect aircraft from increasingly sophisticated infrared-guided missiles. 

SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA MEDIA RELEASE

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