26 April 2018: An exciting PhD scholarship opportunity is available now: Development of upconversion fluorescence for mineral and nano-material identification. Applications Close: 31 May 2018.



The Research Project:

University of Adelaide
CRC ORE Mineral Fluorescence Scholarship School of Physical Sciences, and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS)

Applications are invited for the following scholarship leading to the degree of PhD in the School of Physical Sciences, Discipline of Physics. The scholarship is supported by Cooperative Research Centre Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE).

Development of upconversion fluorescence for mineral and nano-material identification

There are currently no robust and rapid mineral and elemental characterisation technologies applicable for real-time use in the mining industry and for mineral processing in general. Several technologies exist with promise for real-time non-contact mineral identification, including XRF/D and LIBS, but all have limitations which impact their efficacy. This project will seek to discover and exploit “upconversion fluorescence” (UF) from minerals, mineral processing products and nano-materials to develop a novel and transformative technology for on-line real-time mineral and material identification in the mining and mineral processing environment and potentially to diverse new fields of research and industry.

UF is a fluorescence emitted under intense illumination by light in a process involving two consecutive photon absorptions followed by the emission of an UF photon with greater energy than either of the two absorbed photons. The excitation photons may be of unequal energy, hence requiring testing multiple combinations of photon energies to discover the combinations of wavelengths which produce UF from a given mineral or material.

The nature of UF – a three-wavelength process where the emitted UF photon is of shorter wavelength than either excitation photons – means that UF is both mineral-specific and possesses inherent detectability advantages over conventional and Raman fluorescence. UF is therefore ideally suited to real-time process monitoring and mine operations, from mine-face inspection through to slurry stream ore liberation analysis, as production and detection of the UF spectra are fast and each mineral should display a unique narrow-band spectral “fingerprint”.

The application of UF is a novel approach to mineral species identification and quantification that should improve process control and operational planning capabilities in mining and mineral processing. UF has not previously been investigated for applications in the earth sciences, mining or mineral processing, and the technology to do so has only become available within recent years, hence UF for mineral and material identification is a wholly new field with no other existing facilities.

The project will utilise the newly-created UF research facility in the Prescott Environmental Luminescence Laboratory at the University of Adelaide. This facility includes two high-power tunable lasers, a photon counting imaging system, a sample chamber with rampable cryo-stage and a spectroscopy capability to analyse the UF emissions from UV to SWIR.

The laboratory research outcomes will be the UF spectra of the minerals, consisting of the two input photon energies and emission intensity and measurement conditions. This data will guide design of a computer-controlled field test device having suitable light sources tuned to induce UF from target minerals and collection optics and detection system, to enable validation of the concept and its applicability in the real world.

Eligibility: Applicants must be Australian Citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide.

Stipend: The scholarship will be for 3 years and has a stipend of $35,000 per annum. It is likely to be tax exempt, subject to Taxation Office approval.

Students with a background in chemical engineering, physics or chemistry are invited to apply.

For further information: Please contact Adjunct Professor Nigel A. Spooner, School of Physical Sciences, and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS). Telephone: 08 8313 4852, Mob: 0448 367 101, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applying: Please email a summary of your application for admission to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Application for CRC ORE PhD Scholarship” in the subject heading. Applications for admission must be submitted using the Online Application Form available at: https://hdrapp.adelaide.edu.au/auth/login

You can request a copy of your application summary by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject heading 'Request for application summary'.

Closing date: 31 May (for 1 July 2018 start) or 31 October (for 2019 start).


CRC ORE Participant?
Register for access to the members area by
clicking here