In the spotlight: optical physicist Alexander Solnstev
Physics has taken Dr Alexander Solntsev around the world, from Russia to Taiwan to Australia. After studying physics and education at Lomonosov Moscow State University, he later completed his PhD, a postdoctoral fellowship and a research fellowship at the Australian National University.
Now a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Dr Solntsev said he is thoroughly enjoying researching and teaching students about optics and nanophotonics.
"I absolutely love teaching these particular subjects as they integrate well with my research, he says.
I can bring examples from my own research into my teaching, and my students can participate in cutting edge research for their research internships."
Years of hard work have secured Dr Solntsev a long list of competitive research funding, academic grants and scholarships. In 2017 he was awarded an Early Career Academic Fellowship (DECRA) and is currently a referee at the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Dr Solntsev has recently published a paper in collaboration with Australian and German colleagues, detailing the development of a new method of infrared spectroscopy that is both affordable and highly precise. This technology will be further developed into chips for mass production, making material analysis easier and more accessible for chemists, biologists and engineers.
"Ultimately, I hope this research results in the development of new medical techniques and better construction and fabrication materials," Dr Solnstev says.
After devoting over a decade to optical physics, Dr Solntsev remains extremely passionate about the field.
"Optical physics is one of the older natural sciences, explored back in ancient Greece over two millennia ago," Dr Solntsev explained.
"Yet up to this day, optical physics continues to surprise researchers with new phenomena, especially when you start looking at how light interacts with things ranging in size from a millionth to a billionth of a metre.
Dr Solntsev says he's excited by the way optics and quantum physics will change life as we know it.
Thanks to advances in optical telecommunications and quantum optics, we can expect faster and more secure internet and computers. Medical optics will help us develop better and less invasive medicine.
"Great optical sensors won’t only improve the cameras on our smart phones, but they’ll contribute to the development of self-driving cars, smart homes and smart cities," Dr Solntsev says.
When he’s not at UTS teaching or researching, Dr Solntsev is travelling with his wife and two children. His top piece of advice for UTS Science students?
"Do what makes you happy, especially if it can make the world a better place… even if it’s one photon at a time!"
Dr Solnstev is a NSW FameLab semi-finalist where he will talk about his collaborative research into testing complex quantum systems.