RMIT University is a core collaborator in the Australian Research Council's new $38 million Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.
RMIT is one of three core collaborators in the CNBP, which will develop novel biophotonics techniques for studying living cells within biological systems.
A Chief Investigator and RMIT Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow, Associate Professor Andy Greentree, said: "We are used to using light to explore the body, but until recently we haven't been able to see individual molecules because they are too small.
"Through this new centre, we will be able to develop entirely new techniques to open windows into cell function."
Over an initial seven-year funding period, the CNBP will bring together leading researchers from The University of Adelaide, RMIT and Macquarie University with key international, national and industry partners.
Led by Professor Tanya Monro, an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow at The University of Adelaide, the centre has a team of 10 Chief Investigators and draws together a unique combination of physicists, chemists and biologists.
Together they will develop new tools, techniques and sensors to address the challenges of probing biological molecular processes on the nanometer scale - the scale at which the molecular "machinery" of life operates.
"Understanding the machinery of life will help us to understand the mechanisms behind some of the most important questions in the biomedical sciences, such as reproductive health, the immune system, and cardiovascular health," Associate Professor Greentree said.
"Exploring and extending the limits of science will lead to important outcomes for diagnostics and healthcare in the longer term."
"A single particle of light is about one thousandth of the diameter of a human hair, but some of the structures we want to look at are a thousand times smaller than that," Dr Gibson said.
One of the new techniques researchers will use are bright nanodiamonds.
"Fluorescent nanodiamonds are some of the brightest and stable quantum emitters known," Dr Gibson said.
"One of our jobs will be to combine them with optical fibres for a new diagnostic and imaging system."
RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said the participation in the CNBP complemented the University's commitment to fostering research across disciplines.
"New facilities will support the centre's work at RMIT, giving our researchers access to world-class imaging and fabrication laboratories," Professor Drummond said.
"As a global university of technology and design, RMIT has a long-standing commitment to developing inter-disciplinary research like that of this new centre.
"This important program aligns with the University's aim to transform the future with our research and I'm delighted that RMIT will be at the heart of this exciting endeavour."
The CNBP research team will also be taking their work out of laboratories and into schools with Outreach programs including their "Lab on the Road", enabling students to perform quantum imaging experiments.
The ARC Centres of Excellence program seeks to forge major new research collaborations between Universities and into the global research arena and industry.
It focuses on funding transformational research that will receive major international recognition, address challenging research problems and build Australia's research capacity.