Flamin’ brilliant

Trail-blazing Technology for Sydney Olympic Torch

吉姆·派珀教授在十几岁时就做了关于激光科学的第一次讲座. It was 1964, 在一位教师的鼓励下,他在一个公共论坛上分享了他对当时新兴技术的迷恋. 

“激光是一种现在很流行的技术:激光产业每年价值数百亿美元,对人们的生活产生了巨大的影响. The medical, defence, engineering, communications and entertainment industries all use lasers,” he explains. 

“这是一项在现代生活中具有50年历史的重要技术:第一种可见激光器于1960年发明. 这项技术的发展是非常复杂的,涉及到物理不同部分的结合.” 

On leaving school, 派珀教授最初是在新西兰奥塔哥大学从事物理研究的, completing his undergraduate studies in 1968 and his PhD in 1971. 随后,他前往英国,成为牛津大学克拉伦登实验室的研究员, before moving to Australia to join the staff of Macquarie in 1975. In 1984, he was appointed Professor of Physics at the University, and went on to hold a number of senior roles in the Faculty of Science, including Dean, 物理系系主任兼激光应用中心主任. 

Over the next decade, 派珀教授带头与工业界建立了富有成效的研究合作关系. 他与一家英国公司合作开发用于药物输送的高精度流量控制器——使用高功率紫外线激光器钻出微小的孔, many times smaller than a human hair, in plastics. 他还与他的团队合作开发了使用高功率可见激光对金属进行高精度微加工的新技术. 

In the mid-1990s, 他的工作促成了与一家专门从事激光加工的澳大利亚公司的关键合作. 其结果是开发了一种高功率铜激光钻孔系统,将金属激光微加工的速度和精度提高到一个新的水平. With the Sydney Olympics approaching in 2000, 派珀教授和他的团队获得了一个独一无二的机会,为制造一个体育偶像做出贡献. 

“The Olympic Torch has its own mythology,” he explains. “基本上,每一代火炬都是东道国技术创新的结果. For the Sydney Olympics, there were 15,000 torches required for the relay, and their manufacture required sophisticated technology.” 

Developing the right gas mixture, to ensure the flame was very bright without too much soot, was a challenge met by another Australian university; Professor Piper’s team was assigned the task of ensuring the gas burnt at a constant rate, so that the size and burn-time of each flame could be controlled and predicted. 这需要在纸薄的金属箔上钻孔,以确保气体以特定的速率流动. 

“The specifications were quite complex. The torches required very small holes – 75 microns in diameter, 大约人类头发宽度的一半——在200微米厚的黄铜箔上钻孔, or one fifth of a millimetre,” explains Professor Piper. 

“No one had worked out how to do this. The holes had to be round and extremely accurate. 你不能只是把激光对准铝箔——它会打孔、融化,弄得一团糟. 我们必须进行研究和开发技术:我们必须更充分地了解如何 energy of the laser beam interacted with the surface of the metal.” 

After several months of research, 演示孔被提交给悉尼奥委会,火炬也被制造出来. 每个孔都有详细的完整记录. 当派珀教授看到他的团队努力的结果时,他骄傲地看着 held high by athletes running from Greece to Asia, along the Great Wall of China and eventually, to Australia. 

“When Cathy Freeman and those wonderful athletes carried the torch, our research and development was inside. We made the torch work. 在当时,世界上没有其他人能做到这一点,”派珀教授说. The laser technology was so advanced, the next hosts of the 奥林匹克运动会还向麦格理银行及其业内人脉寻求帮助. 

“希腊曾与同一家澳大利亚公司接洽,为2004年奥运会制造火炬,而我们为希腊火炬钻了所有的洞,这是一个公开的秘密. 那时,我们已经改变了激光的类型,我们已经把它变成了一种精美的艺术. We had a video of every hole as 它被生产出来了,他们得到了有效的认证,在他们的小铜片上.” 

Today, 派珀教授对研究影响的承诺继续推动麦考瑞大学的创新. He was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research in 2003, 并在接下来的十年里培养了与澳大利亚工业界充满活力和富有成效的合作文化. 

Appointed a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 1994, Professor Piper has also received a number of awards during his career, including the Pawsey Medal from the Australian Academy of Science (1982), the Walter Boas Medal from the Australian Institute of Physics (1984), the AOS Medal from the Australian Optical Society (1997), 2006年,苏格兰大学卡内基信托基金会授予卡内基百年教授职位. In 2014, 派珀教授因其“对高等教育的重大贡献”而受到表彰, particularly through research in applied laser physics’, by becoming a Member of the Order of Australia. Although he retired in 2013, 派珀教授仍然是该大学年轻科学家的榜样, and throughout Australia. 

“奥运火炬的故事建立在一生的理解之上:这对澳大利亚工业和, through the Olympics, there was benefit for the entire country.” 

“这是一项有影响力的研究:这一原则被规定在麦格理大学的校风中. This is a University that is engaged and committed. 我感到自豪的是,我们为社区利益而进行研究一直是麦格理文化的一部分.”

Hear our conversation with Professor Jim Piper

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Content owner: DVC - Research Last updated: 17 Oct 2019 3:55pm

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