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University of Western Australia
Country: Australia
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32 Projects, page 1 of 7
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: BB/T018364/1
    Funder Contribution: 40,669 GBP

    Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: BB/L026392/1
    Funder Contribution: 10,081 GBP


  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: BB/P027008/1
    Funder Contribution: 150,663 GBP

    Optical microscopy is the most widely used imaging tool in laboratories all around the world. Indeed, According to BCC market research, the global optical microscopy market will be worth US$6.3 billion in 2020. Several Nobel prizes have been awarded for contributions made to the development of optical microscopy, including most recently in 2014. There is, however, a major limitation facing optical microscopy: it is difficult, if not impossible, to image tissue hidden beneath layers of overlying tissue. This occurs for the same reason that it is difficult to see clearly through a window covered in rain drops - tissue is highly scattering, like rain drops, and critically degrades image quality. This is important as it prevents in-tact tissue from being imaged in its natural environment, requiring tissue to instead be sliced into thin sections. A variety of approaches have been used in an attempt to overcome this problem. All such approaches are generally similar in that they insert hardware into the microscope in an attempt to compensate for the degradation due to the sample. This is similar to humans using spectacles to overcome imperfections of their eye. The main difference is that opticians are able to precisely determine the imperfections that each eye has, and thus design spectacles which perfectly compensate for them. No such method has been developed for measuring sample induced imperfections, or aberrations, present in microscope images. This project proposes to do just that: measure the imperfections caused by the sample itself. This will be achieved by computing the optical structure of the sample (i.e., how light travels in the sample) via a two stage process. Firstly, the sample will be imaged by a microscope capable of performing rapid three-dimensional imaging called an optical coherence microscope (OCM). OCM works very much like ultrasound imaging, except light is used instead of sound waves. The second step involves developing a sophisticated computational procedure for calculating the sample's optical structure from the OCM image. This will be performed using a recently mathematical model, developed recently by the project team, which allows OCM images to be predicted from a given sample structure. Clearly, our task is to solve the opposite problem: calculate the sample's structure given a measured OCM image. Formal techniques have been established for solving the problem in the opposite fashion which will be adapted specifically for this project. Once the sample's optical structure has been solved, in a follow-on project, existing methods will be employed for restoring optical fluorescence microscope images which have been degraded by the sample itself. This will enable fluorescence microscopy to be performed at depths within tissue which are currently inaccessible. This will be highly advantageous to many biological researchers in the UK and the world.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/E013732/1
    Funder Contribution: 200,158 GBP

    The Antarctic is a uniquely important 'natural laboratory' for examining ecosystem responses to climate change, and it is vital that the biological changes being observed there are properly understood. Its uniqueness comes from a combination of the simplicity of its ecosystems, which exhibit restricted species diversity and food chain complexity, with environmental warming which is occurring at approximately twice the rate of change in temperate regions. The proposed research will develop novel experimental and modelling techniques to find out the importance in Antarctic soils of specific forms of nitrogen. In addition, we want to find out whether these forms of organic nitrogen are available to microbes and plants, and whether global warming will alter the nitrogen dynamics of Antarctic soils. We hypothesize that our research may offer an explanation for recent expansions in vascular plant populations on the Antarctic continent. The work directly underpins policy relating to climate change and biodiversity in polar regions. The work is also extremely relevant to many other low-input ecosystems around the world (e.g. boreal forest, Arctic tundra, tropical rainforest).

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/I011668/1
    Funder Contribution: 665,183 GBP

    The study of spin-transfer torque at a magnetic domain wall continues to be one of the most vibrant areas of research in spintronics, motivated by the prospect of novel memory and logic systems and devices. At heart, the phenomenon is based on a fundamental law of nature: conservation of angular momentum. As an electron moves, as part of a flow of electrical current, through a magnetic domain wall, the direction of magnetisation around it will rotate from that in the first domain to that in the second. The magnetic moment on that electron, which arises from its spin angular momentum, will have to rotate accordingly. This results in a change of angular momentum on the electron by a single quantum unit. This change is compensated for by an equal change in the magnetisation of the metal that is carrying the current. The outcome is that if enough electrons pass through a domain wall, the 'electron wind' will push the wall along, just as a sail is blown along by wind in the atmosphere. The potential for using this effect to write and manipulate data represented magnetically in the next generation of nanoelectronics has lead to proposals for device architectures such as IBM's racetrack memory. At present, research in the field is overwhelmingly dominated by a single material and sample architecture: the lithographically patterned Permalloy nanowire. (Permalloy is a magnetically soft alloy of nickel and iron.) This is in spite of the fact that such nanostructures will probably not form the basis of any eventual device: the domain walls within them are too wide, too complex, and insufficiently rigid. Very high current densities, within an order of magnitude of the point of wire breakdown through electromigration, are needed to move them. From the point of view of basic research, it is clear that only a very restricted number of the possibilities for domain walls in nanowire systems has been investigated with any rigour. We will carry out a wide-ranging study of nanowires fabricated from multilayer films, drawing on years of experience in the preparation and study of such materials. Our attention will be focussed on two main classes of magnetic multilayer. The first class is the so-called synthetic antiferromagnet. Here two magnetic layers sandwich a thin metal spacer layer, through which they are coupled so that their magnetic moments prefer to lie in opposite directions. The lack of a net magnetic moment means that such structures are impervious to moderate magnetic fields and can be packed densely together on a chip without interacting, both attractive for spintronic technologies. Moreover, we have carried out preliminary micromagnetic simulations, which predict narrow, simple domain walls in such structures. The second class is multilayers in which the magnetisation lies perpendicular to the film plane. Recent results that we (and others) have obtained on these systems show that the efficiency of the spin-torque effect is roughly one hundredfold larger in these materials than in Permalloy - but that the defects in the materials lead to wall pinning effects that are larger by the same amount, so that huge current densities are still required. Here we will study the nature of the defects and so learn how to eliminate them, allowing such devices to operate with currents up to one hundred times smaller, leading to ten thousand times less power consumption. We will also investigate the control of the spin-torque effect using local electrical gates, making use of another recent discovery: the fact that in such thin perpendicular layers, a suitable structure incorporating an interface with a dielectric can give rise to electric fields acting as effective magnetic fields on moving electrons, giving rise to a new spin-torque effect through spin-orbit interactions. This will give control of domain wall pinning with a fine spatial and time resolution using voltages, giving the prospect of novel device architectures.

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