A new job for glass fibres

While researching the performance of the optical fibres that are the backbone of telecommunications and the internet, Tanya Monro realised that they could do much more.

Tanya Monro. Credit: Jennie Groom

She’s invented a new class of hollow or holey fibres using soft glass, which have thousands of applications as sensors: detecting metal fatigue in aircraft wings and other structures; monitoring contamination in water supplies; and a smart bung that monitors wine development while it’s still in the barrel.

Her latest venture is leadership of a new ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, which will develop her fibres to watch developing embryos, probe immune signals, and explore plaque in our arteries.

Tanya won the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year in 2008.

Photo: Tanya Monro
Credit: Jennie Groom