Sarah Scholten

Dr Sarah Scholten

Grant-Funded Researcher (B)

School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

My research endeavours to harness the unique properties of light to break the boundaries of precision measurement for both fundamental and applied research. After gaining my PhD and continuing my work in the field of molecular spectroscopy with optical frequency combs, I have also evolved a deeper understanding of atomic physics through my post-doctoral experiences developing a compact high-stability optical clock. I have a deep interest in translating experimental discoveries and techniques developed during my research efforts into real-world, out-of-lab measurement devices that solve difficult problems and benefit the world.

I was awarded my PhD in 2019 from the University of Adelaide, for which I received the Dean's commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence. After submission of my thesis, I joined the University of Adelaide as a grant-funded researcher within the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

  • Compact High-Stability Optical Clock: We have developed an optical clock based on a two-photon transition within rubidium which is performing at the same level as the best commercially available frequency standard (the Hydrogen maser), whilst being 10-fold smaller and lighter. This is possible through a new patented laser interrogation scheme pioneered within the research group using two different colour photons to excite the two-photon transition, leading to a million-fold increase of excitation efficiency. This technology is breaking the traditional limits between size, weight and performance of optical clocks. We are developing the clock into a more compact, more efficient device ready for out-of-lab deployment, while harnessing the benefits of these upgrades to perform fundamental investigations of atomic light shift effects.
  • High-Resolution Molecular Spectroscopy: We are continuing development of our high-resolution molecular spectroscopy experiment based on a laser frequency comb light source and high-precision trace gas spectrometer. We use novel techniques to measure the absorption of different comb modes using a Virtually Imaged Phase Array (VIPA) spectrometer which has demonstrated a measurement accuracy of 1% and a precision of 0.04% and analysis cycle of less than 1s for measurement of the number density of Carbon Dioxide. We demonstrated for the first time, rapid precision measurement of 12C16O2 and 13C16O2, at 0.03% and 1.24% respectively. This measurement technique is also verified to be highly linear for concentrations ranging over three orders of magnitude. We are now using this novel technique and applying it to biological samples, such as Carbon Dioxide produced from yeast, and we are currently developing the system to perform measurements of biomarkers in exhaled breath of patients for medical diagnostic applications.
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2019 - 2022 Grant Funded Researcher University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Award Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence University of Adelaide Australia -
    2019 Award Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing Best Student Paper Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing Australia -
    2018 Award Warsash Science Communications Prize in Optics Australian Optical Society (AOS) Australia -
    2017 Award The Merry Wickes Transdisciplinary Award Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing Australia -
    2016 Scholarship Research Training Program Australian Government Department of Education Australia -
    2015 Scholarship Australian Postgraduate Award ), Australian Government Department of Education Australia -
    2015 Award The David Sutton Memorial Prize University of Adelaide Australia -
    2014 Scholarship Playford Trust Honours Scholarship The Playford Trust Australia -
    2014 Award The Fred Jacka Memorial Prize The University of Adelaide Australia -
    2014 Scholarship Photonics Scholarship Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group Australia -
    2013 Scholarship Photonics Scholarship Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group Australia -
    2013 Award Outstanding Academic Achievement Award The University of Adelaide Australia -
    2013 Scholarship School of Chemistry and Physics Summer Research Scholarship The University ofAdelaide Australia -
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2015 - 2019 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    2014 - 2021 University of Adelaide Australia Honours Degree of Bachelor of Science (First Class)
    2011 - 2021 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Laser Physics & Technology)
  • Research Interests

Date Project Investigators Funding Body Amount

2020 – 2021

Demonstration of a Two-Photon Atomic Clock with Light Shift Suppression using Two-Colour Magic Wavelengths

C. Perrella, A.N. Luiten, S. Scholten, J. Ginges

Asian Office of Aerospace R&D, Air Force Office of Scientific Research


I greatly enjoy teaching students in both a research and scholarly role. I take a particular interest in teaching students about the curious behaviour of light in particular. My recent teaching activities include:

  • Lecturer Physics IIB (Optics Module)
  • Workshop Facilitator Physics IIB (Optics Module)
  • Workshop Facilitator Optics & Photonics III
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Co-Supervisor Photonics and Machine learning approaches to Detect Environment, Physiology and Disease Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Madeleine Cochrane
    2021 Co-Supervisor Compact Clock for Small Satellite Applications: Protocol Development for Increased Stability Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Emily Jane Ahern
    2020 Co-Supervisor Using an Optical Frequency Comb to Perform Gas Spectroscopy Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr Joshua Whitaker-Lockwood
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Board Member Science Network Committee Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing Australia
  • Position: Grant-Funded Researcher (B)
  • Phone: 83131078
  • Email:
  • Fax: 83134380
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: The Braggs, floor 1
  • Org Unit: Physics

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External Profiles