Hovered above a laser table at the University of NSW Canberra, Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko adjusts optical elements through which invisible beams split and scatter.

His research lives in a physical world thinner than a human hair. Nanophotonics, the study of light on the nanometer scale, could herald an age of super solar-cells, next-generation internet and holograms.

For Prof Miroshnichenko, one of Australia’s leading researchers, it is about exploring the detail(s),

"It is about finding that missing piece of a beautiful puzzle. You can start broad, but then you settle down and get deep into the detail,” Professor Miroshnichenko said.

That detail is driving advances in optics, where the size and cost of traditional lenses are barriers to innovation.

"Metalenses, lenses that exist at the sub-wavelength scale, will provide smaller and cheaper optics that can be applied to smart glasses, augmented reality goggles and smartphones - where the current lens is the greatest barrier towards size reduction.

“I’m still learning new things every day. It’s that excitement that drives me, to advance our optical technologies and offer some kind of solution, some kind of discovery.” Professor Miroshnichenko said.

Professor Andrey Miroshnichenko was recently recognised as a top 40 researcher by The Australian Lifetime Achievers Leaderboard in their annual Research edition.