Exciton Science Associate Investigator Dr Liam Hall and Partner Investigator Dr Anthony Chesman of CSIRO have been awarded a prestigious National Intelligence and Security Discovery Research Grant by the Australian Government’s Department of Defence.
Together with their collaborator Dr David Simpson, Liam and Anthony will receive AU$567,148 to conduct a three-year project. Their aim is to use cutting edge diamond-based quantum sensors to develop a robust, compact and sensitive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer for trace chemical detection analysis.
NMR is the gold standard of chemical characterisation and quantification. Yet this powerful and ubiquitous technique is not currently available to field operators needing to characterise and quantify samples that are potentially highly toxic or explosive.
Translating their benchtop quantum-based sensing technology to a portable, low-SWaP (size, weight, and power) configuration would provide the Australian Defence Force with enhanced situational awareness and could dramatically reduce exposure of military personnel to chemical and explosive threats, while providing high-fidelity data from which truly informed tactical decisions can be made.
The project was among just four to receive funding in this cycle, and, in a testament to the investigators involved, is the first submission without a professor involved to be successful in the history of this grant.
Dr Hall is an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow based at the University of Melbourne. He said: “We’re grateful for the faith shown in us by Defence. Not only could the technology we’re working on save lives around the world, there are also clear and immediate benefits in environmental and health applications. We’re very much looking forward to deploying an accurate, portable NMR spectrometer a reality in the near future.”