As a research-intensive university ranked in the world’s top one per cent of academic institutions, UWA encourages its students and staff to explore the unknown, challenge convention and make things happen. But none of this could take place without the state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar, futuristic and, in some cases, mind-blowing equipment, devices and techniques that have a home at UWA’s faculties and affiliated research organisations.
In our print edition we shared a selection of our ‘cool gear on campus’ and here we are able to bring you more.
Former UWA student Matthew Avent studies the transport of sand in multiphase pipeline flows. Matt was part of UWA’s Cooperative Education for Enterprise Development (CEED) program, designed to link the abilities and training of undergraduate and postgraduate students with the research and development needs of organisations in the wider community. The rig he’s working on was developed for a series of CEED projects for Woodside looking at the transport of sand in LNG pipes.
The Bruker BioSpec 9.4 T MRI is used for preclinical and molecular magnetic resonance imaging, in addition to materials research. With high-field ultra-stablised refrigerated magnet technology and multinuclear capabilities (i.e. hydrogen, fluorine, sodium, and phosphorus), the instrument can deliver high spatial resolution invivo, bringing researchers closer than ever before to the molecular and cellular levels of what they are observing. This system is also used for investigating industrial engineering problems related to liquid natural gas pipelines and desalination membranes.
UWA is home to the only geotechnical modelling facility in the world that operates three centrifuges, including a 26 tonne fixed-beam centrifuge that had to be lowered by crane into the new Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre building. The new centrifuge, shipped in from France, has a 10m diameter and is capable of spinning 2400kg of soil at a G-level of 100, which is 10 times greater than the force an astronaut experiences during training. It is shown here with UWA’s Professor Christophe Gaudin, who heads the National Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility.
- Technicians Manuel Palacios and Adam Stubbs in the C72 beam centrifuge control room.
It looks complex… and it is. The IMS 1280 SIMS is the only large geometry ion microprobe capable of performing both in microscope and microprobe modes. Thanks to its superior capabilities for analysing isotopes and elements accurately and precisely, it is able to measure the in-situ compositions of geological and environmental materials, showing subtle differences in their isotopic compositions. At CMCA, its uses include identifying nuclear material for the International Atomic Energy Agency, with UWA the only university in the world employed to do this. For researchers Dr Laure Martin (left) Dr Heejin Jeon (right) it’s part of their day to day work.
Thanks to its incredible sensitivity at high mass resolution, the NanoSIMS50L allows trace element imaging and quantification with 50nm SIMS spatial resolution, even in electrically insulating materials. At UWA’s Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA) it’s used in geoscience research, including for rock and reservoir analysis. Also, in a complete change of pace, it’s used for Procter and Gamble intesting the penetration of nutrients into hair samples. Dr Paul Guagliardo is just one of the research staff who spends regular time on the 50L.
UWA’s Nikon Centre of Excellence in Optical Microscopy, located at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, is home to six instruments, including some of the most powerful optical microscopes on the planet (up to 20 times more powerful than the previous generation of optical instruments). Professor David Sampson from UWA’s Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis said the instruments will help researchers make major advances in medicine, biology and science by allowing them to see things on a scale never before possible.
UWA’s Optical and Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (OBEL) invents and studies new optical and imaging techniques and applies them in collaboration with researchers and clinicians in medicine and biology. Here, Research Associate Bryden Quirk works with lasers.
Designed and built by an in-house technical team, UWA’s large and mini O-Tubes have revolutionised research on pipeline stability design and sediment transport by simulatingin a controlled lab environmentsome of the most severe underwater cyclonic conditions in the world. By forcing 60 tonnes of water through a 1.5 metre-square working section with a 16 metre-long stretch of natural seabed soil, researchers are able to demonstrate how seabed sediment, pipelines, other infrastructure and flora interact with the marine environment.
It might look boring but ‘Magnus’ is Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s flagship machine, a world-class petascale supercomputer and one of the most powerful in Australia. Used by academics to crunch massive data sets for everything from high-energy physics to mining and petroleum, medical research and multimedia, it was established in 2000 as ajoint venture between WA's four public universities and CSIRO, and is the longest-running and most successful venture of its type in Australia.
UWA’s SPIRIT (SPICE-Physics-ICRAR Remote Internet Telescope) is a research-grade instrument that is accessible to schools across WA, regardless of rural or remote location and without specialised software. It gives high-school students the potential to discover new planets and exploding stars in distant galaxies and is also used to enrich tertiary studies in astronomy.