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Atomic collisions seek to answer energy efficiency problem

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A Curtin University physicist has been awarded a Future Fellowship to continue his work investigating atomic collisions, in particular improving the energy efficiency of fluorescent light sources.

Associate Professor Dmitry Fursa, of Curtin’s Department of Imaging and Applied Physics and the Institute of Theoretical Physics, received the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship from the Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Kim Carr in Canberra last week.

Director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics, Professor Igor Bray said Associate Professor Fursa’s research group are world leaders in calculating how particles interact on an atomic scale.

“The group is studying the interactions which are going on everywhere around us – those between electrons and atoms, and photons and atoms. We currently know very little about these processes,” Professor Bray said.

Associate Professor Fursa is investigating the interactions occurring in fluorescent lamps and has developed the world’s best computer code for modelling the collisions between electron and mercury atoms that occur in these lamps.

“Knowing more about these interactions will contribute towards producing more energy efficient lighting,” Associate Professor Fursa said.

“There is also a move to replace mercury in fluorescent lamps with more environmentally friendly materials, and so we are also participating in the development of new mercury-free fluorescent lamp designs that can be used by the lighting industry.”

Alternatives that are being considered include zinc and gallium.

“Although we are working on a very small particle scale, the applications for this work are on a very large scale,” Professor Bray said.

“We will also advance the field of atomic collisions in hot, dense plasmas which are of great importance for fusion energy research and the understanding of astrophysical plasmas.”

Note to Editors:

The Future Fellowships scheme started in 2008 in order to promote research in areas of critical national importance by giving outstanding researchers incentives to conduct their research in Australia. This prestigious scheme is designed to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers and will significantly boost Australia’s research and innovation capacity in areas of national importance.


Associate Professor Dmitry Fursa, Department of Imaging and Applied Physics, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4257, Email:

Professor Igor Bray, Director, Institute of Theoretical Physics, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4416, Email:

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