In summary

  • Professor Baohua Jia, has been elected one of 118 The Optical Society (OSA) Fellow Members for 2021
  • Professor Jia is the Founding Director of the Centre for Translational Atomaterials at Swinburne
  • She is combining nanotechnology, optics and graphene in a number of world-leading projects

Founding Director of the Centre for Translational Atomaterials at Swinburne, Professor Baohua Jia, has been elected one of 118 The Optical Society (OSA) Fellow Members for 2021.

The distinction acknowledges significant contributions to the advancement of optics and photonics through education, research, engineering, business leadership and service. Elected by their peers, this year’s fellows include 23 women, the largest number of women ever elected in one year.

“Baohua is a world-leading expert in the field of photonics and nanomaterials and I am thrilled for her to receive this significant recognition,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Bronwyn Fox says.

World-leading research

Professor Jia is combining nanotechnology, optics and graphene in a number of world-leading projects, including an energy storage alternative to batteries that is faster, safer and much longer lasting, a super-thin, lightweight lens to provide 3D focus on tiny details and a nanaostructure ultrathin film that can harvest sunlight into heat within seconds.

The battery alternative, called a supercapacitor and dubbed the Bolt Electricity Storage technology (BEST) battery, stores energy in a thin sheet of graphene that bends like paper. It may be the answer to ensuring a stable supply of solar energy.

The tiny lens is made from a one molecule layer of atomaterials – the next generation of nanomaterials with a thickness about one millionth of a human hair in size.

It could reduce by two-thirds the width of endoscopes used to diagnose medical conditions, leaving a surgical cut of just one millimetre. It could also greatly improve the quality of photos taken by mobile phones, through a graphene lens the size of a pinprick.

The 90-nm ultra-thin graphene film can heat up to as high as 160 °C within 40 seconds under sunlight in an open environment offering efficient solar energy harvesting approach.

“I am glad my work is recognised by the community. I am so fortunate to work on something I love with a group of amazing colleagues in a very supportive research institute. I hope my research could solve some real challenges and benefit everyone’s life.”

Work-life balance

Professor Jia is acutely aware of the demands that female scientists face in balancing work and family. ”It is hard for everybody. But as long as you love it, it is worth the extra effort. If you are able to prioritise and work efficiently, you’ll find the way,” she says.

“My research is important but of course so are my children. At Swinburne, this juggle is possible because we have a very supportive working environment for women.”

The Optical Society

The Optical Society election process is highly competitive. Candidates are recommended by the Fellow Members Committee and then submitted for review and approval by the OSA Awards Council and OSA Board of Directors.

The new Fellows from 24 countries will be honoured at OSA conferences and meetings throughout 2021.

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