Associate Professor Stephen Madden

BSc(Eng) PhD DIC
College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Photonics, Optoelectronics And Optical Communications 020504
  • Photonics And Electro Optical Engineering (Excl. Communications) 090606
  • Classical And Physical Optics 020501
  • Polymers And Plastics 091209
  • Nanophotonics 100711
  • Nonlinear Optics And Spectroscopy 020503
  • Condensed Matter Characterisation Technique Development 020401
  • Ceramics 091201
  • Complex Physical Systems 029902
  • Optical Networks And Systems 100507
  • Surfaces And Structural Properties Of Condensed Matter 020406
  • Glass 091206
  • Nanotechnology 1007
  • Condensed Matter Physics 0204

Research interests

Fibre and Integrated optics, Planar waveguides, optical transmission systems, optical switching, MIR light generation and processing with integrated optics, Semiconductor processing methodology, Liquid crystals, optical polymers, Tellurite and Chalcogenide glasses and devices


A/Prof Madden currently leads research on Chalcogenide, Tellurite, and polysiloxane integrated optical devices at the Laser Physics Centre. His research career in fibre & integrated optics spans much of the period from 1984 to the present in start-ups, Multi-nationals, and academia covering a diverse range of areas including Liquid Crystals, seven different materials systems for planar devices, all fibre devices, Hybrid integration, Bragg gratings and devices, planar tunable lasers, optical transmission systems and all optical networking, and non-linear effects in SOAs and planar waveguide devices. The spectrum of work has covered fundamental science through to putting new high technology products into volume production and out onto the market.

Available student projects

General note for all potential applicants

Regrettably in the current funding environment, unless explicitly noted otherwise in the project descriptions below, we are unable to provide student stipends to overseas students, and so if you wish to apply from overseas we require that you obtain a suitable scholarship to support your living costs. The ANU has several schemes (see for example) as do a number of countries (e.g. the Chinese Government CSC scholarship programme).


1) Midinfrared Astrophotonics for Protoplanaet Exploration

The exact nature of the planetary formation process is still a scientific conundrum, and untangling this is difficult without direct observational evidence. However given that planets form in dust clouds and close to bright stars, observations are very difficult. The dust clouds can be penetrated and contrast maximised by going into the mid-infrared (MIR) region, and by using nulling interferometry, the central star can be cancelled from view leaving the protoplanet visible. However the interferometry requires an extremely stable self aligned platform that is only really feasible in an integrated optics implementation, and has never been demonstrated in the MIR. The Laser Physics Centre are world leaders in low loss MIR waveguide technology and this project would focus on the design, fabrication, and testing of suitable interferometric nullers in the 3-4.5um spectral region. The focus is on telescope beam combiners for the VLTI multi telescope interferometer, and is based around a kernal nulling geometry. The project explores how to implement a high performance jkernal nulling architecture on chip and with active phase control and efficient injection.


2) Ultrafast Laser Abaltion for Large Infrastructure Maintenance - Sydney Harbour Bridge

Femtosecond lasers have the unique propertity that the interaction of the pulses with matter can occur with no heating as the pulse length is shorter than the electron-phonon coupling time and so no heat transport is possible. This makes it possible to ablate the surface of materials with no thermal or other forms of damage, ideal for preserving heritage objetcs or cleaning/restoring structures under consderable service stresses.The recent advent of femtosecond lasers with up to kilowatt power levels now makes this process practical in industrial environments, for example recent tests suggest that a 1kW femtosecond source can ablate ~200 cubic mm/min of steel and  ~35000 cubic mm/min of some types of paint.

The project addresses developing an efficient and effective process to ablate paint, contamination, and rust from the surfaces of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Comparison with nanosecond laser pulses is planned, and collaboration with Transport for NSW, The University of Sydney, and the Australian Nuclear Safety and Technology Organisation will demonstrate that the process does no damage and does not compromise the fatigue strength and service life of the bridge. Field trials are an expected outcome fo this project.

A PhD stipend is available for this project, but to gain a tuition fee waver you must meet a number of criteria including evidence of prior refereed journal paper publications.



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Updated:  11 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers