2013 University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research

Shine on you tiny diamonds.

Nano-scale diamond sensors that light up the insides of cells have been created by University of Melbourne’s Professor Lloyd Hollenberg and his colleagues. The Quantum Bio-probes team showed they could detect individual atoms inside a living cell. 

For their innovative combination of quantum physics, biology, chemistry and nanotechnology, Professor Hollenberg and his University of Melbourne team have won the 2013 Australian Museum University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research.

Their work opens possibilities for improving the delivery of medicines by tracking molecules moving inside living cells.

“This exciting combination of nano-engineering and biology will allow us to explore what’s going on inside a living cell in more detail than has ever been possible in the past,” the Director of the Australian Museum, Frank Howarth said.

“Existing medical imaging technologies have delivered huge benefits for human health. This invention opens the door to a new revolution in imaging,” he said.

The Quantum Bio-probes team inserted tiny diamonds with single flaws into living human cells. The diamonds were able to measure the magnetic fields from individual atoms and molecules with far greater resolution than that achieved by current medical imaging.

Team member Frank Caruso has also won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

The two other finalists for the prize were chosen for their development of bionic eyes, and cell sensor chips.

Bionic Vision Australia with members from Bionics Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia, NICTA, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales has implanted a prototype bionic device within the walls of a patient’s eye.

Professors Justin Gooding, Katharina Gaus and Dr Peter Reece of the University of New South Wales have developed an optical chip that can measure chemicals released from single cells captured on its surface.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, science journalism and communication, and school science. This year the 17 sponsored prizes include awards for agriculture, defence, infectious diseases and innovative use of technology.


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For further information about the prizes:

Kea Lambert , Project Officer, Eureka Prizes
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