RMIT's Distinguished Professor Min Gu has been awarded the 2016 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation for his outstanding contributions to significant nanophotonic discovery and innovation.
Harnessing a fascination with the "magic future" promised by lasers in the late-1970’s in Shanghai, Gu has forged a luminary international career spanning almost 40 years.
He is a world-leading authority in nanophotonics, nanofabrication, biophotonics and multi-dimensional optical data storage with internationally renowned expertise in three-dimensional optical imaging theory.
Currently RMIT’s Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Gu has also been a Node Director of the Australian Research Council for Ultrahigh-bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems since 2003.
The 2016 Victoria Prize in the Physical Sciences category adds to a long list of honours such as the Einstein Professorship Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010), the Australian Academy of Science’s Ian Wark Medal (2014), and being made a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council (2010).
It is the second year in a row that the Victoria Prize has gone to RMIT, with Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, taking home the honours in 2015.
Watch the video of Professor Min Gu speaking to veski about winning the 2016 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation.
Gu thanked the Victoria Prize committee for the award and said: “Winning two prizes in two years is solid acknowledgement of RMIT’s strategy to pursue research excellence that leads to impact.
"I’m personally most proud of receiving this prize. I’ve spent the past five years pursuing impact through my research, once our research capabilities were established with my teams of doctoral and post-doctoral candidates.
"This is a truly gratifying recognition of our successes on that journey.
"I’m also indebted to my family for their understanding. Without the support of my wife and two sons, this endeavour over 16 years would not have been possible."
Gu’s world-leading research has been cited across more than 15,000 publications in the past 10 years alone and he has written two books on the 3D optical imaging theory and microscopy which are now used as core texts at hundreds of universities internationally.
With his research teams, Gu has been consistently shattering theoretical barriers in optical science, breaking new ground in innovation and revolutionising industries as diverse as health, renewable energy and big data.
"My work is driven by curiosity. If I don’t understand something in my field of expertise, I will begin my inquiry and study that area,” he said.
“I don’t tend to follow tradition or what others are doing in the field. I try to look for those spaces and places where no one else is working and ask, ‘what can we discover here?’."
Pioneering applications Gu’s teams have developed include 3D optical microscopy and endoscopy that use laser beams to provide a 3D view of the object and can detect changes at cellular or sub-cellular levels, and next-generation ultra-thin solar-cell technology harnessing nanophotonics.
They have also developed petabyte storage systems using SPIN (superresolution photoinduction-inhibited nanolithography) technology that increases data storage capacities by some 10,000 times.
Gu is currently also conducting research in nanophotonics in collaboration with peers at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis said: "Victoria is a world-leading science and innovation hub and it's our scientists that drive the success of our local industries.
"Congratulations to Professor Min Gu for being awarded the 2016 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation."
RMIT researchers awarded Victoria Fellowship
RMIT Senior Research Fellow Dr Tamar Greaves was made a 2016 Victoria Fellow in Physical Sciences for her work using protic ionic liquids to study the stability of enzymes.
These are potential solvents for use in industrial processes across pharmaceutical, consumer-product and agricultural industries.
Greaves thanked the selection committee for the fellowship.
"This fellowship will greatly benefit my research and career development," she said.
"I’ll use the funds to visit leading institutes and attend conferences in the field, learning from others working in this area and identifying opportunities for future collaboration."
Senior Research Fellow Dr Ravichandar Babarao was awarded a 2016 Victorian Fellow in Physical Science for his research in understanding the stability of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for large scale production and industrial applications.
Dr Babarao will use the Fellowship to travel to the United Kingdom and France to collaborate with world renowned scientists working in this area.
"Establishing collaboration between chemists and computational materials scientists and engineers will advance the understanding of the underlying complex behaviour observed in several MOF frameworks," Dr Babarao said.
"This will enable me to solve an important problem in the commercialisation of MOFs for industrial use."
Improved MOF-based manufacturing techniques could ultimately be used by Australian manufacturing industries to make them more competitive internationally.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said the awards were testament to the approach RMIT was taking in continuing to support high performance research groups in key areas of excellence and innovation opportunity, aligned to eight Enabling Capability Platforms.
"To win the prestigious Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation for two consecutive years affirms our focus on creating value from our excellent research, providing others outside the academic community a pathway to deliver the ultimate positive economic, societal or environmental impact," Drummond said.
"To win Victoria Fellowships, also for consecutive years, highlights RMIT's exciting next generation of scientists and engineers conducting internationally leading-edge research.
"My sincere congratulations to Min and Tam. At RMIT, we are very proud of them for receiving this well-deserved recognition."
Story: Lingam Palam