RMIT researchers wowed crowds with lasers and light at a Melbourne festival with a difference.
A team of experts from the RMIT University node of the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) were an illuminating attraction at this year's AstroLight Festival at Scienceworks.
The festival aims to bring together researchers, industry bodies, science communicators and community science groups as they showcase the wonders of astronomy, light and science to over 2000 members of the public.
Members of the CNBP-RMIT team discussed their passion for lasers, optics, fluorescence and all things light and molecular. They also gave presentations on a variety of topics including laser combat in the movies and in real life, natural glow-sticks found in the living environment, and astronomy at the nanoscale.
With a selection of the Centre’s cutting-edge equipment at hand, researchers were able to demonstrate a fluorescence microscope that shows the biological workings of a cell and a scanner that takes 3D images of objects in real-time. The team also encouraged attendees to take part in a number of colourful laser-based activities to reveal how light waves work.
Associate Professor Brant Gibson, CNBP node leader at RMIT said the festival was a huge success.
"All the contributors and organisations came together to share knowledge, expertise and to provide some fun with engaging activities for people of all ages,” he said.
“The CNBP team worked tirelessly in producing talks and demonstrations as there was a real desire to showcase our science in the most appealing and engaging way possible.
“Large numbers of people at our stand – all curious about biophotonics – was testament to the effort, energy and enthusiasm shown by our team in making this event so memorable."
Gibson highlighted the importance of taking science out to the community.
"It's critical that we communicate the fantastic research we are doing and that we do it in a way that makes it real and important to the general public so they can see how it impacts on their everyday lives,” Gibson said.
“Of course, making it fun and exciting is the perfect way to display our work – which is why AstroLight is such an outstanding festival."
Inspiring the next generation of potential researchers was also a key objective to participating.
"We really want to encourage interest and continued education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects that will foster future innovation," said Gibson.
"Hopefully some of the children impressed by our lasers and talks will be doing my job in twenty-five years’ time – wouldn’t that be great!"
Story: Tony Crawshaw