The Applied Electromagnetics and Radiation Physics Research Group undertake a number of grant and industry funded projects in medicine and geophysics.

A medical physics project to implement a method of image guidance for synchrotron radiotherapy trials on the imaging and medical beamline at The Australian Synchrotron.

Project dates: 2016
Key people: Associate Professor Jeffrey Crosbie, Dr Daniele Pelliccia
Partners: The Australian Synchrotron

Synchrotron microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) is a novel, preclinical RT in which synchrotron-generated X-rays are segmented into a lattice of microbeams, usually 25-50 µm wide. The beams have minimal divergence and are spaced at regular intervals of 200-400 µm. Typical radiation doses are 300-800 Gray (Gy) in the beam (peak dose), and 5-20 Gy in the valley between the beams. In studies published to date, synchrotron MRT has shown equivalent or superior tumour control to conventional RT in different animal models, with the added benefit that there is significantly less damage to normal tissues.

Currently, MRT is only possible at a small number of synchrotron facilities world-wide, including the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne. The underlying radiobiology of MRT is not well understood with numerous hypotheses proposed to explain the effectiveness of a treatment which exposes the tumour to a very steep gradient of ‘peak’ and ‘valley’ doses of radiation.

A medical physics project to test and validate the dose predictions from a computerised planning system against measured data obtained on the imaging and medical beamline at The Australian Synchrotron.

Project dates: 2016
Key people: Associate Professor Jeffrey Crosbie, Dr Daniele Pelliccia, Dr Jessica Lye, Dr Chris Poole
Grants and funding: NH&MRC Project Grant 2014-16
Partners: The University of Melbourne, The Alfred Hospital, The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, The Institute of Cancer Research (UK)

Our group performs medical physics and dosimetry work relating to Synchrotron Microbeam Radiation Therapy (MRT), an experimental form of radiotherapy which shows tremendous promise in preclinical trials. In collaboration with other groups, we are also investigating the radiobiology of synchrotron MRT.

All Synchrotron MRT research groups worldwide are multi-disciplinary. The field requires input and collaborations from medical physicists, radiation biologists, engineers, oncologists, and computer scientists.

A biomedical imaging project to develop a dedicated x-ray microscopy for high resolution 3D biomedical microscopy.


Key people: Dr Daniele Pelliccia, Associate Professor Jeffrey Crosbie
Partners: Monash University, University of Technology Sydney.

X-ray imaging is an extremely popular tool in a broad range of applications, from medical diagnosis to security, through to non-destructive testing. Most of the recent x-ray technology has been initially developed at large facilities such as synchrotrons, and more innovations are to come thanks to novel diffraction-limited storage rings and x-ray free electron lasers (FELs). The role – and much of the strength – of large scale facilities is to pave the way for innovation in x-ray science, technology and applications.

We are developing an x-ray micro-CT system optimized for imaging hydrated biological specimen such as cell cultures in vivo. The system will work in tandem with an inverted fluorescence microscope to produce morphological and molecular imaging of the specimen.

Most ground geophysical electromagnetic signal transmitters are cumbersome, and for maximising signal use large loops of wire laid out on the ground. These transmitters are unsuitable for operation in boreholes, and are not one-man-portable. This research is using advanced modelling software to design an optimum transmitter given weight and size constraints. Recent developments in nano-engineered magnetic cores are a major development that facilitates this project.

Project dates: 2014-2018
Key people: Professor James Macnae, Mr John Chung, PhD student Joseph Hamad
Grants and funding: Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists Research Foundation grant RF15M02

Using precise knowledge of worldwide lightning strikes, we aim to compare measured and predicted amplitudes and directions of received electromagnetic transient signals. The amplitude attenuation with distance and directional changes predict geology, both under the survey site and backward along the path from the source lightning strike. New and inexpensive electromagnetic field sensors developed at RMIT are exceptionally sensitive to worldwide lightning, with 4 to 40 detected strikes per second, originating from different continents and hence different directions. Directional earth conductivity predictions will provide a novel tool for mineral explorers in their search for resources, and help predict geological structure at depth.

Project dates: 2013-2016
Key people: Professor James Macnae, Professor Alan Jones, PhD student Lachlan Hennessy
Grants and funding: Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists Research Foundation grant RF13M02

We are developing an Airborne Induced Polarisation system capable of detecting sulphide and other mineral deposits at depths up to 150 m, which is currently being field tested by sponsor Source Geophsiscs.

Project dates: 2011-2016
Key people: Professor James Macnae
Grants and funding: AMIRA International project P1036, P1036a, P1036b (in circulation)
Partners: Industry partner sponsors of the AMIR project: Anglo American (Spectrem Air), Abitibi Geophysics, BHP Billiton, Outer-Rim Developments, Teck-Cominco

The aim of this project is to deliver technology for Airborne Induced Polarisation (AIP) measurements and interpretation. Proprietary studies in the mid 2000’s using available software (program ArjunaAir from P223e and code from the CEMI consortium) independently suggested that porphyries should be detectable to 150 m depth using B field data collected at low frequencies, provided that a transmitter dipole moment exceeded 1 MAm2 and that B field noise levels could be kept below 10 pT at later delay times, or E field measurements be made with sub mV/m accuracy. Since then, theoretical studies by Marchant at UBC, Viezzoli at Aarhus, Kratzer and Macnae at RMIT, and others have confirmed earlier suggestions by Smith and Klein. For example, that AIP may be feasible using dB/dt measurements in limited circumstances

Stages 1 and 2 of P1036 developed key hardware to measure B and E fields, and provide the necessary corrections for rotation noise (changes in coupling to the Earth’s magnetic field that have limited useful AEM to frequencies at or above 25 Hz)). The project has achieved 3 pT noise levels on airborne B field data, with usable 8.33 Hz excitation, and has every prospect of reducing noise levels by an order of magnitude or more. The hardware developments to date thus have met the design specifications of sensitivity for the IP effect in porphyries within 150 m of surface. Airborne hardware suitable for AIP surveying is being constructed by P1036 project sponsor Outer-Rim Developments

The opportunity exists for additional sponsors to join Stage 3 of the P1036b project which will focus on the development of processing and interpretation tools for the hardware already developed. Sponsors will have the opportunity to obtain exclusivity for commercial surveys during the project and for a period after commercial flying commences.

Development of B and dB/dt sensors for mineral exploration with superior performance to High Temperature SQUIDS. This project was a finalist in The Australian Innovation Awards, 2014.

Key people: Professor James Macnae, Mr John Chung
Grants and funding: Funded by Abitibi Geophysics (Canada) and Source Geophysics (Australia)

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer