Our Vision

CNBP researchers will discover new approaches to measure
nano-scale dynamic phenomena in living systems

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Discover new approaches to measure nano-scale dynamic phenomena in living systems




Drive advances in the development of new ways to measure inside living systems



CNBP is an internationally recognised hub of NanoBioPhotonics, empowering young researchers; seeding new companies; and educating our community about the value of science.




  1. Lead international research in nanobiophotonics – creating tools for understanding complex biological systems;
  2. Empower and integrated fields of leading researchers across physics, chemistry and biology;
  3. Pioneer approaches to transdisciplinary research training and nurturing entrepreneurship in emerging scientists;
  4. Inspire children through to young adults to aspire to careers in science as a pathway to making a difference;
  5. Engage with leading international centres and researchers to strengthen outcomes and raise the profile of Australian Research; and
  6. Seed industries by creating disruptive technology platforms and partnering with industry.


Science Aims


  1. Reach the limits of light-based measurement within complex and dynamic biological environments;

  2. Exploit physics and multiple scales – nanoscale to macro – using photons to bridge from nanomaterial to devices;

  3. reate smart, tailored interfaces between these nanoscale systems and the biochemical environment;

  4. Develop new ways to control molecular function in solution and on surfaces;

  5. Establish new forms of assay measurement that can operate within living organisms;

  6. Use these assays to study key problems associated with embryological development, and brain and blood vessels function; and

  7.  Understand the molecular mechanisms, processes and functionalities in these biological systems

This vision will be delivered within four cross-connected Science Themes:


and three biologically driven challenges at the forefront of current research:

The Spark of Life - Origins of Sensation - Inside Blood Vessels


Theme 1 Illuminate will create novel light sources for interrogating biomolecules. Combining advanced photonic concepts and nanomaterials, photons will be generated directly in the living system. Innovative physics will include fibres with enhanced UV transparency, localised light ensuring off-target areas stay dark and single photon detection.


Theme 2 Recognise will focus on the surfaces of the photonic structures and nanoparticles, integrating them with chemical and biological recognition agents to introduce diverse functionality. Optical fibre surfaces will be functionalised with photoswitchable molecules and nanoparticle assays to enable enzyme activity measurement and small molecule detection.Nanoscale interfaces will allow us to convert molecular information into photons.


Theme 3 Measure embeds the novel sources and recognition methods from Themes 1 and 2 within nanophotonic architectures customised to enhance light-matter interactions at the nanoscale for biological measurement. This will create a class of advanced technologies that will change the questions biological scientists can ask.


Theme 4 Discover will identify specific molecular changes for measurement by the advanced molecular sensors to be developed in the Centre, monitor changes to the cellular environment by the application of these probes, and develop biologically inspired artificial biosensors to detect, change and/or monitor biological processes


In parallel to these themes we will pursue three Biologically Driven Concept Challenges. We seek to understand: 

  • The Spark of Life – by exploring approaches to sensing in and around developing embryos;
  • Origins of Sensation – by probing immune signals linked to touch and pain in the central nervous system; and
  • Inside Blood Vessels – by exploring the role of the endothelium within blood vessels.


These challenges have been selected because they pose measurement questions  that cannot be addressed with existing technologies. They provide a context in which  we can explore and extend the limits of the science, and a pathway for evolving research outcomes within each theme in directions that will enable translation and impact.

The Centre is innately innovative and  transdisciplinary. The program drives research within the Centre’s core disciplines and between the discipline  boundaries. Achieving our aims requires us to stretch the limits of knowledge in these disciplines and to bring together existing strands of collaborations between the individual Chief Investigators and Partner Investigators. It will weave a fabric of knowledge between these existing research fields and train a cohort of scientists capable of working across these interfaces


Australia is home to many new innovations and technologies

We aim to add to that proud reputation - and to bring our fellow Australians on this journey, engaging them in science that will play an important part in building our economic future. the CNBP will nurture our most precious resource, young Australian researchers, to gain a first rate scientific education and research experience, both in Australia's leading laboratories and those of international and industry partners.

The Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics links Australia's key nanophotonics groups and builds on Global Collaborations with a focus on doing the science required to advance biology.