The world’s most accurate ruler, called the optical frequency comb, has revolutionised the measurement of time and space – in fact we use this technology every day as it runs the GPS in our smartphones.

However, today’s optical frequency combs are large, expensive and complex and remain trapped in specialist laboratories. The extraordinary potential of the optical frequency comb remains largely untapped.

We are making optical frequency combs as inexpensive, readily available and accessible as today’s consumer electronics enabling the hunt for earth-like planets, increased internet data speeds, rapid greenhouse gas measurement and more accurate mapping of our earthquake prone areas.

What is an optical frequency comb?


A device capable of translating electronic signals into light waves.

It was first invented at the end of the 20th century and enabled the most precise measurement the world had ever seen, allowing research that transformed satellite global positioning, and the exploration of distant suns.

Our research areas

Microcomb Science and Technology

Understand new optical physics for generating combs, structures and materials

Spectroscopy and Microscopy

Better understand living organisms and complex gases

Information and Intelligence

Advance record-breaking internet transmission for rapid brain-like machine learning

Sensing and Measurement

Create compact robust atomic clocks for structural monitoring and mapping of geological features


Deliver new calibration standards for astronomical spectrographs to search for planets in other solar systems

Our vision

Optical frequency combs will be as cheap, readily available and accessible as today’s consumer electronics, and will enable breakthrough science and industrial transformation for broad societal impact.

Latest news

A technological revolution is coming: will we be ready?

For some time now, no single application has needed light-filled chips enough to justify the massive investment to make them an industrial reality.

Until now.

International Day of Light: What could life be like in the year 2031?

Health diagnostic devices based on our breath, drones that detect when fruit is ripe, and an alternative to GPS – find out what real-world impact our researchers think our COMBS Centre of Excellence could have in the next seven years.

Inaugural COMBS Workshop at Cape Schanck

Four days, 75 attendees, and more than 50 presentations – our inaugural COMBS 2024 Workshop last week spanned topics as diverse as astronomy, fundamental physics, earthquake monitoring, medical diagnostic tools, and internet infrastructure.

New research centre to bring world’s best measuring device out of the lab

Our collaborative research Centre of Excellence will develop ultra-precise measuring devices that could enable high-speed internet, better medical screening technologies and carbon emissions monitoring.

Our projects

Our team is working on a variety of projects spanning fundamental physics, astronomy, sensing and measurement, information and intelligence, and spectroscopy and microscopy.

Our team

Our team brings together a team of multi-disciplinary researchers spanning optical physics, photonic chip technology, materials science, and sophisticated digital and microwave electronics from eight universities.

Do you want to be a part of our Centre?
We are currently recruiting for PhD students
and Postdoctoral Researchers.