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UNSW collaborating with French organisations for solar energy and remote sensing research

UNSW collaborating with French organisations for solar energy and remote sensing research

The University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Sydney has signed
new agreements with two French scientific organisations to bolster cooperation
over renewable energy innovation and environmental research.

Agreements were signed with the
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS),
France’s largest government research organisation and the Centre National
d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French Space
Agency.

In addition, Australia’s first hardware
quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd (SQC) entered into a collaboration with Commissariat
à l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (the CEA; French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy
Commission), a French public government-funded research organisation.

UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Ian Jacobs said,
“The successful partnerships UNSW enjoys with leading French science agencies
place Australia and France at the forefront of collaborative research and
innovation. [The] new agreements are further evidence of our commitment to work
together on scientific advances which will have a positive global impact.”

Solar energy

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between
UNSW Sydney and CNRS, the two organisations will facilitate the exchange of
solar energy innovations through joint conferences, seminars and research
projects. Potential topics include solar energy, storage of renewable energy
and renewable energy integration.

The agreement reflects the commitments of Australia and
France to address climate change through the COP21 Paris Agreement and support
for the recently formed International Solar Alliance, headquartered in Delhi,
India.

Professor Mark Hoffman, Dean of UNSW Engineering, said the
agreement between UNSW and CNRS built on the existing relationship and
emphasised both parties’ commitment to sustainable energy innovation.

“UNSW Sydney welcomes the continued collaborations with CNRS
to promote cooperation in the field of solar energy,” Professor Hoffman said.
“We believe this partnership will lead to new and more efficient ways of
delivering solar energy to combat soaring energy demands across the globe and
help fight climate change.”

Remote sensing

UNSW
Canberra Space
and CNES have a signed a Letter of Intent for a partnership
to study a breakthrough remote-sensing satellite that will be capable of
monitoring the health of the coral reefs near Australia and in the South
Pacific.

The joint study is expected to pave the way for developing
disruptive space technologies such as hyperspectral
remote sensing, onboard processing, artificial intelligence and
formation-flying technologies.

These technologies can support applications such as
monitoring fresh and marine water quality and precision agricultural practices.

Professor Russell Boyce, Director of UNSW Canberra Space,
said France and Australia had a strong legacy of space cooperation over 35
years and this project would see that relationship continue. This is the first
project to come to fruition after two years of working with CNES toward the
development of joint space missions.

“Our facility at UNSW Canberra enables spacecraft design
engineers and scientists to rapidly design and determine the technical and
economic viability of proposed space missions,” Professor Boyce said. “Our
capability includes hyperspectral remote sensing and the onboard processing
needed to turn measurements into useful information with real-world application.”

Quantum computing

SQC, whose shareholders include the Australian government,
UNSW, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Telstra and the NSW state
government, signed a MOU to bring together French and Australian efforts to
develop a quantum computer.

SQC was launched
in August 2017, to drive the development and commercialisation of a 10-qubit
quantum integrated circuit prototype in silicon by 2022, as the forerunner to a
silicon-based quantum computer.

The MOU outlines plans to form a joint venture in silicon
complementary-metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) quantum computing technology to
accelerate and focus technology development, as well as to capture
commercialisation opportunities.

The 2018 Australian of the Year and SQC director and
founder, UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, said, “We have phenomenal
leadership in silicon quantum computing across a range of platforms, and SQC is
now moving rapidly to commercialise all these technologies. It is very exciting
that Professor Andrew Dzurak and his team have found a design, development and
fabrication partner the quality of the CEA.”

Under Professor Dzurak’s stewardship, SQC has world-leading
expertise in designing and demonstrating components of the quantum chip, based
on silicon-CMOS technology.

In December 2017, Engineers at UNSW published
a complete design for a quantum computer chip, that can be manufactured using
mostly standard industry processes and components. The design was devised by
Professor Andrew Dzurak, director of the Australian National Fabrication
Facility at UNSW, and Dr Menno Veldhorst, lead author of the paper who was a
research fellow at UNSW when the conceptual work was done.

A press release in March 2018 announced
that a team of scientists led by Professor Simmons had demonstrated for the
first time that two atom quantum bits or qubits, generated from precisely
positioned individual atoms in silicon, can be made to “talk” to each other.