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The Australian National University

Dr Vincent Daria

PhD Applied Physics
Fellow, Group Leader (Neurophotonics Group)
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: +61 2 6125 4025

Areas of expertise

  • Lasers And Quantum Electronics 020502
  • Classical And Physical Optics 020501
  • Nonlinear Optics And Spectroscopy 020503
  • Neurosciences 1109


Dr. Daria earned his PhD in Applied Physics from Osaka University in 2000 and then worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Risoe National Laboratory(Denmark).  Their group at Risoe pioneered a highly efficient light projection technique based on dynamic phase-only spatial light modulation (SLM). They applied their unique light projection method to manipulate arrays of microscopic objects and cells simultaneously via the transfer of light's momentum. In 2004, he moved on to establish a research group at the University of the Philippines to work on ultrafast lasers in combination with spatial light encoding combined with non-linear optical processes. Such technique was applied to fs-laser nanosurgery and manipulation of cells and 3D microfabrication.  In 2007, he joined the Australian National University to set up a holographic multi-photon microscope for applications in neuroscience. The success of such venture has now attracted major grants from the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council. Dr. Daria is currently the group leader of the the Neurophotonics Research Group at the John Curtin School of Medical Research and at the same time teaching optics courses (Fundamentals of Lasers and Photonics in Biotechnology and Nanotechnology) offered by the Research School of Physics and Engineering. He also maintains collaborative projects with scientists at the Research School of Chemistry and the Research School of Engineering.

Researcher's projects

  • Neurophotonics: Understanding how networks of neurons in the mammalian brain process sensory inputs and shape motor outputs is one of science’s great challenges. Using holographic projection of multiple light probes, we aim to understand information flow in the mammalian brain.  The light probes are directed into living brain tissues to manipulate neuronal signaling in three dimensions.
  • Brain-on-a-chip: We aim to understand how the geometry of the extracelluar matrix of the brain influence neuronal circuit formation by studying the interplay between biomechanical from biochemical cues that each neuron experiences during growth.  To introduce biomechanical cues and assess its impact, we grow neurons in an artificial ECM made of semiconductor nanowire scaffolds. We correlate neuronal morphology and function with the design of nanowires to systematically analyse biomechanical cues influencing growth and circuit formation. Furthermore, we employ neurophotonics tools to assess the function of neuronal circuits formed on the nanowire scaffolds.
  • Optical tweezers: Nanotechnology has a promising future in the fabrication of small machines - but exactly how these machines work is far less certain as they defy fundamental, classical thermodynamics. Using dynamically programmable multiple-beam optical tweezers, we aim to probe the work and energy dissipation of small systems, including those of single molecules, colloidal crystals, and membranes.

Available student projects

  • Neurophotonics: Neurobiologists now rely heavily on optical techniques to study the brain. Recent advances in optical methods provide them with the necessary tools to analyse the dynamics and principles of neural circuitry, especially on techniques to detect activity in large numbers of neurons, and to selectively excite sub-sets of neurons. This PhD project entails multi-disciplinary collaborative work, to take part on our work on neurophotonics.  We have custom-built a novel two-photon microscope, which is designed with a 3D holographic laser projector.  The system relies on photostimulation or light induced generation of neuronal signals to study how neurons process and integrate information. Using a computer-generated hologram, we dynamically generate the required 3D optical field pattern to stimulate neuronal signals at multiple sites along the dendritic tree of a neuron. This technique can be used to emulate the many synaptic signals neurons receive from neighbouring neurons.  How a neuron processes these signals, ultimately leading to an action potential, are issues to be tackled in this study.  Creative use of physics and optical techniques to solve particular issues in neuroscience can be rewarding for students with physics and engineering background.  This project is funded by the Australian Research Council.
  • Microrheology and optical tweezers: This cross-disciplinary team is offering experimental PhD research projects in the area of optics and micro-rheology.  The projects use novel optical-based techniques to probe non-equilibiurm fluids, such as biological fluids, membranes, and suspensions, as well as model soft surfaces.  Potential students will have a strong interest in optics and in the development and application of optical techniques to probe fundamental physical science of soft materials.  An undergraduate degree in a quantitative field, such as physics, physical chemistry, or engineering, is required.  Funded by a Discovery Project by the Australian Research Council. 



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  21 September 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers