$58m for latest ARC laureate research fellowships

Brandon How

STEM researchers in areas like quantum computing and clean energy will receive most of $58 million in laureate research fellowship funding awarded by the Australian Research Council on Tuesday.

The latest laureate research fellows will have their work funded for a five-year period to explore areas like quantum hardware, new low-cost solar cells, and new photonic sensors.

Of the 17 fellowships, 14 are in STEM disciplines, with two others in the humanities and creative arts, and one in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences.

UNSW Quantum Engineering Professor Andrea Morello. Image: UNSW

This year’s round had an approval rate of 13 per cent, awarding $58 million of the $460 million worth of project funding sought.

Researchers based at universities in New South Wales received the most project approvals (seven), although the University of Melbourne was the administering organisation to receive the most approved projects (three).

Many of the projects centre on investigating the impacts and dynamics of climate change while some look to develop the skills and technologies for new industries.

Among the New South Wales-based researchers is University of New South Wales Professor of Quantum Engineering Andrea Morello, who is receiving $3.4 million to establish practical methods for “error-corrected quantum computations using atomic-scale devices in silicon”, according to the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The project aims to deliver a quantum computing hardware platform with significant cost reductions compared to overseas industry and government competitors.

Professor Hongzia Wang from the Queensland University of Technology’s centre for material science will receive $3 million to develop new low-cost, highly efficient, and long-lasting perovskite-based solar cells that can be manufactured at scale.

The cell will also replace gold electrodes usually used in perovskite-solar cells with “superior low-cost carbon alternatives” that have better electronic and surface properties. Despite higher power conversion efficiency, current perovskite solar cell technology has significantly shorter lifespans when compared to mainstream photovoltaic technologies.

Meanwhile, the largest fellowship awarded in this round ($3.7 million) will fund University of Adelaide Professor Derek Abbott’s work on using terahertz biosensing to produce rapid-detection sensors down to the sub-nanogram level. The wavelength of terahertz radiation is between microwaves and infrared.

The program aims to provide “rapid substance identification with exquisite precision at trace levels” for use in security, healthcare, forensics, and space exploration.

The full list of recipients:

  • Prof Derek Abbott – The University of Adelaide
  • Prof Andrew Baker – The University of New South Wales
  • Prof Gabrielle Bell – The University of Queensland
  • Prof Nathaniel Bindoff – University of Tasmania
  • Prof Alan Collins – The University of Adelaide
  • Prof Yihong Du – The University of New England
  • Prof Christopher Gibson – University of Wollongong
  • Prof Michael Kearney – The University of Melbourne
  • Prof Liza Lim – The University of Sydney
  • Prof James McCaw – The University of Melbourne
  • Prof Andrea Morello – The University of New South Wales
  • Prof Jacqueline Peel – The University of Melbourne
  • Prof Sharon Robinson – University of Wollongong
  • Prof Jeffrey Walker – Monash University
  • Prof Hongxia Wang – Queensland University of Technology
  • Prof Michael Ward – The University of Sydney
  • Prof Thomas Wernberg – The University of Western Australia

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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