The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies is a world class organisation building on Aotearoa New Zealand’s (NZ) internationally acknowledged strength in the fields of quantum optics, photonics and precision atomic physics. Photonics, the manipulation of the quantum building blocks of light, and the precision control of matter at the atomic scale through the use of light, underpin technological development in areas such as computing, advanced sensing technologies and medical imaging, and communication. The photonics industry in NZ is already worth at least $1.2bn and is growing at 10% per annum. In addition, the world is entering a second quantum revolution. The first gave us silicon-based electronics. The second is set to revolutionise how we process information, sense our environment and understand our world.
The UK, Europe and the US have already pledged over NZ$4bn in additional funding for this quantum revolution. China is committing similar, undisclosed levels of funding. The Dodd-Walls Centre, as the nation’s greatest engine of physical sciences research (42% of NZ impact in the Physical Sciences, ten Marsden and four MBIE Smart Ideas awards in the 2019 funding round) is in a unique position to capture value for NZ from this multi-billion dollar global investment. The Centre is already making significant contributions to the advancement of this revolution.
In addition to our economic impact, we directly improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders through our environmental and medical research. We are developing new tools and techniques for detecting and treating cancer, for example, and have established the NZ node of the Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring Network. We work with partners in the AgTech and Māori Economy sectors to improve the rural economy. We have a direct impact upon the wellbeing of our people and Aotearoa - this beautiful country in which we all live.
Photonics and quantum technologies are set to be significant drivers of the diversification of the NZ economy across the next decade. The Centre continues to build upon our existing internationally-acknowledged research strength, with a programme of strategically targeted research questions which maximise our impact on a global scale.
The strange world of quantum theory
At the beginning of the 20th century, science legends Einstein, Schrödinger and Heisenberg discovered a vast, uncharted relam of physics with unfamiliar rules: quantum physics.
Jack Dodd returns to Otago University from the UK, where he had completed a PhD in nuclear physics. There were no resources to continue with his work in New Zealand, so he starts afresh in the field of atoms and electromagnetic radiation. Jack’s pioneering research would eventually help to establish the field of quantum optics.
Alongside close colleague George Series, Jack develops the theoretical explanation for quantum beats. In the same year, the laser was invented, driving an explosion of interest in the field of quantum optics. Finally, scientists are able to observe and control the quantum state of atoms.
A golden era
Dan Walls, along with colleagues Crispin Gardiner, Howard Carmichael and John Harvey, develop an internationally respected reputation with their work at Waikato University. Their summer schools attracted leading physicists from around the globe.
Bose Einstein Condensates put Otago on the map
Jack Dodd returns to Otago University from the UK, where he had completed a PhD in nuclear physics. There were no resources to continue with his work in New Zealand, so he starts afresh in the field of atoms and electromagnetic radiation...
Achieving critical mass
The Dodd-Walls Centre Director Professor David Hutchinson and Deputy Director Professor Neil Broderick successfully bid for the centre to become a Centre of Research Excellence.
Dodd-Walls successfully achieved renewed funding as a Centre of Research Excellence through to 2028.
As a Centre of Research Excellence, the Dodd-Walls Centre has over 220 researchers and students from six partner institutions, working in quantum optics, photonics and precision atomic physics. The Centre engages in educational outreach and commercialisation activities
The Dodd-Walls Centre research focuses around photonics, the manipulation of light at the most fundamental, quantum level, and the control and manipulation of matter at the atomic scale, through the use of light.