Simon Fleming

I have been a researcher in photonics since 1983 and my work has resulted in well over two hundred journal and conference publications. My particular areas of interest include optical fibre and fibre drawing, optical materials providing gain, non-linearity and more exotic behaviour, and their application to real world problems. Since 1996 I have had extensive experience in leadership, management and governance of research facilities, groups and collaborations.

My teaching has primarily involved the supervision of many PhD and MSc research students. Since 2009 I have been deputy coordinator of Senior Experimental Physics, and from 2011 I have the same role in Intermediate Experimental Physics.

My professional engagement involves organisation of a number of conferences internationally and domestically, together with being Treasurer and a Councillor of the Australian Optical Society.

From 2011 I have a split role in the School of Physics. 60% of my time is given to the role of Chief Operations Officer in the CUDOS Centre of Excellence. For the other 40% of my time I am a professor in the School.

My main contribution to the administration of the School is as chair of the Space and Infrastructure Committee. I am on the Executive of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science. I manage the University's participation in the the NCRIS funded ANFF OptoFab. I am a Director of the Bandwidth Foundry, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University, that provides micro- and nano-fabrication facilities and services.


My research career started at about the time when it was becoming apparent that single-mode optical fibre not only offered much greater capacity than multimode, but could actually be practical. My first contributions to the field were in the area of metrology, characterisation and standards for single-mode fibre. I contributed to the international standard ITU-T G650 and was involved for well over a decade in the two major conferences in the field, SOFM and OFMC.

With the invention of the optical fibre amplifier my interest moved to applying my measurement and characterisation knowledge to the new class of fibres that employed rare-earth doping to give gain. My research quickly moved onto the fibres and particularly the amplifiers and lasers that could be made with the. I made several important contributions particularly to the understanding and realisation of praseodymium doped fluoride fibre amplifiers.

In 1994 I joined University of Sydney's Optical Fibre Technology Centre to apply my knowledge of praseodymium doped fluoride fibre to realise all solid state blue fibre lasers. This work was very succesfull and we still hold the record for performance of this type of laser, although the development of blue laser diodes has subsequently lowered the impact.

We needed an all fibre modulator capable of handling this blue light and started to explore poling as a means of making a fibre manifest electro-optic behaviour. This topic has been my major research interest since about 1996. Together with many research students and staff, we have made many significant contributions to this field.

In terms of applications, I am currentlky particularly interested in biomedical applications of photonic and optical fibre technology and in recent years have worked on fibre-optic dosimetry for raditaion treatment of cancer and on laser detection of the early stages of dental caries.

The fibre drawing technique, where one starts with a macroscopic artefact and then draws into into a microscopic filament retaining all the geometric features, has always fascinated me. In 2001 I contributed to the very early stages of the microstructed Polymer Optical Fibre breakthrough. Since 2009, with colleagues and students, we have been researching the application of this technique to the fabrication of metamaterials - nanostructured metal-dielectric composites with extraordinary optical properties such as negative refraction and invisibility.


Publication list [updated 02/09/10]

Teaching and Research Student Projects


My responsibilities in undergraduate teaching are:
Whilst I have no formal role, I maintain a strong interest is the Masters of Photonics and Optical Science.

Student Projects

My main areas of current research activity are in poling and drawn metamaterials and there are various possible projects that we can offer at all levels from TSP to PhD. Additionally, I am especially interested in biophotonics and, whilst I do not have any well-defined projects to propose, I would be very haappy to discuss opportunities in this area is it is of interest to you.

Poling is a technique that significantly modifies the properties of glass to give it an important nonlinearity. Glass with this nonlinearity can be used to switch light and to change the wavelength of light. The main aspects of the mechanism of poling are understood, however there is a lot as yet unknown. Student projects include investigating the mechanisms to demonstrating the nonlinear behaviour.

Metamaterials are a very hot research topic. They are materials that are made up of dielectrics and metals regularly patterened on a scale that is much smaaller that light. With this structure they can behave in ways that are impossible for naaturally occuring materials: they caan demonstrate negative refractive index, permit imaging of objects much smaller than the wavelength and provide invisibility. They are however very hard to make. Our research innovation has been to apply the techniques of optical fibre drawing to their fabrication. Students projects include theoretical analysis of the materials and devices, and experimental and theoretical investigation of their fabrication.

Biophotonics takes the photonic science and technology that have revolutionised telecommunicatiosn over the last few decades and adapts and applies it to solve biomedical problems. I have worked on the application of special fibres to radiation treatment of cancer and to early detection of dental decay. This is an exciting field which is steadily gathering momentum. There are many possibilities and I would be happy to discuss potential projects.

Professional Activities

[Coming soon]

School Administration & Management

Chair of the Space and Infrastructure Committee 2008-Present

[More details coming soon]

Contact Details

Room: 311, Bldg. A28
Phone: 02 9114 0851


[Coming soon]