Dr Scott Martin

Group Leader - Applied Physics

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Research & Early Career
After completing my PhD (physics - molecular electronics) in the UK I joined CSIRO in 1994 and started working on various biosensor projects for a CRC, an IVD company (AGEN Biomedical) and on a strategic project. Transduction mechanisms used included trans-membrane conduction in synthetic cell walls, surface plasmon resonance, nephelometry, lateral flow sandwich assay. Later in the 90's I transferred 100% to the evolved CRC which had become AMBRI Pty Ltd. Working with new colleagues from the Nucleus Group, I became project leader for an instrument development team creating the readout instrument for the AMBRI Biosensor to be used in a 96 well microtitre plate format for drug discovery. Although tracking successfully, the project was abandoned when AMBRI's target market was shifted by and incoming CEO and I was reassigned as Senior Production Manager responsible for the team of 10 producing 10,000 sensors per week for researchers and external partners. The fabrication process was complex and technical involving thin film deposition in a cleanroom, ellipsometric QC, various chemical incubation treatments and culminating in a robotic fluidic self-assembly process. Initially, managing the sensor orders, workflow, chemical batch consumption and delivery/ageing issues took me several hours per day, however, I created a Laboratory Information Management System which allowed researchers to order sensors, customisation and timing based on available resources. The production team then received their workflow and materials selections from the LIMS and all batch history records were available to researchers. When implemented, the system reduced my daily oversight of the scheduling to about 15 minutes. With the production team, we standardised, automated and expanded capacity so that we were soon able to produce many times more sensors than before.

Sensors for Ink/Water Balance for the Printing Industry
In 2000 I returned to CSIRO to lead the commercialisation of an optical sensor for the printing industry. CSIRO had produced a prototype and were about to exhibit it at an industry tradeshow. In the following year the new team built around the project produced two prototype generations of a system that could measure and control the ink/water balance in large offset lithographic printing presses used in newspaper and magazine printing. We forged strong relations with the largest press manufacturer in the world at the time and planned to incorporate the system into their mainstream products. In 2002 the press manufacturers were experiencing boom business as new technology replaced aged presses with new, faster, flexible (format) presses. At the same time our sensors were installed at trial sites at News Limited, PMP Print and a commercial printer in Germany. Our technical analyses were revealing new insights into the printing process and solving print quality problems. Although often considered an old-fashioned process, modern printing is challenging to control because of the speed, high pressures of the impression cylinders and the complexity of the materials. Water/ink balance is the key - water is used to repel ink from the non-imaging areas, but too much or too little creates quality problems. It was not uncommon for more than 5% of the paper to be wasted to poor quality print. The paper enters the impression zone at high speed and pressure between the rollers - paper is a variable 'natural' product that varies in characteristics, ink is a thixotropic (non-Newtonian) fluid and the 'water' used to repel ink is actually a cocktail of some 35 chemicals including surfactants, pH buffers and corrosion inhibitors. Sadly, by 2004 the press manufacturing market went rapidly from boom to bust (for some). There were thousands of job losses from the industry and competition on price was so fierce that some vendors were supplying close to or below cost. We made the tough call to shelve the project pending an upturn, but after some time we permanently closed the project. Deciding to stop something is always difficult, but it's the only way to migrate from lost opportunity to new opportunity.

Physical Security & Counter Terrorism
The world was acutely interested in security and counter-terrorism in the wake of 9/11 and I found myself leading a portfolio of projects delivering enabling technology into national security. Based on CSIRO science, most of the projects related to either detection or response to threats. Some examples were chemical detection of biological threats, investigating ways to detect explosives at tens of metres range.

Current Role - Group Leader - Applied Physics
Today I lead a group, Applied Physics, of researchers, engineers and supporting functions across seven main activities: five are based around technical and scientific capabilities (grapheme, electrical machines, high speed instrumentation, optical systems, superconductivity) and remaining two provide prototyping support (ElectroMechanical Development) and industry assistance/engagement (the Lindfield Collaboration Hub). Together the teams are creating benefit to industrial partners in: defence, aerospace, next-gen automotive, heavy transportation, minerals & mining, telecommunications, science infrastructure, renewable energy, and health amongst others.

Current Role - Officer-in-Charge at the Lindfield Site
My other current role is Site Leader for CSIRO's Lindfield site. In addition to operating and enhancing a safe and vibrant site, we have ambitious plans to increase both university and industrial co-location at Lindfield. In the past three years we have rapidly grown from a few to over 110 people co-located at Lindfield, mainly in deep-tech start-up companies. We launched a new collaborative maker space for inventors to develop hardware concepts and prototypes and we are able to offer TechVouchers to new partners to engage with us. This initiative has be greatly accelerated thanks to a NSW Industry grant (2016-2020 as part of the Building Business Innovation Program. Also made possible by this funding have been two special ON Connect programs in which early tech start-ups (not co-located) are guided through the lean Launchpad process to identify and validate their target markets and to define a minimum viable product. The Lindfield Collaboration Hub is being brilliantly led by Katie Green.

Lifetime citation count: 758
h-index (excluding self-citations): 11
Researchgate (RG) score: 22.65

Other Interests

I am fascinated by the possible scenarios for the future especially the impact of technology. I have collaborated with the "futurist" and author Richard Watson assisting with his excellent Trend Blends and Timelines (www.nowandnext.com). In 2012, with the Neville Freeman Agency CSIRO embarked on extensive scenario planning on the future of Aged and Community Care in Australia. The work was published and can be downloaded here: http://www.oliverfreeman.com.au/library.html.

The healthcare scenario activity brought me into contact with the Palliative Care sector in Australia and in recent years I have been invited to speak at the Victorian, Western Australian and National conferences in Palliative Care - on the topic of how technology may impact on this area in years to come. I was deeply impressed by the qualities of wonderful people in palliative care: their compassion, their inner fortitude and their acceptance of the inevitability of death (including their own). I maintain a connection with Palliative Care as a volunteer for Hammondcare.

Since 2012 I have served as a non-executive director of the Laboratories Credit Union (LCU) and in 2016 commenced my 3 years as chairman of the board of directors. LCU is a small financial institution with approximately $175M in assets and 3000 members. It was formed by CSIRO staff over 60 years ago and still provides banking services to many CSIRO staff, alumni and families. The banking sector is very highly regulated through APRA and ASIC and a significant aspect of operating a financial institution revolves around governance and compliance (which is largely the same whether you are a big bank or a credit union). LCU is a perfect example of customer owned banking - owned by the members for the members.

For 15 years I have volunteered with the Australian Institute of Physics - at the federal and branch levels. I coordinate industry engagement for the NSW branch, predominantly through the annual Physics in Industry Days.

Through the Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program, I spend a few days each year in the classroom at the Northern Beaches Secondary College where I explore the future of cars with gifted and talented programs. Last year members of the Tesla Owners Club brought their Model S's to show the class - including the self parking function. We also consider where the electricity comes from and learn about conservation of energy as well as each student building their own little solar powered model car.

In my spare time I love motorcycling with friends and karate.

Current Roles

  • Site Leader
    Lindfield SIte

  • Group Leader
    Applied Physics

Academic Qualifications

  • 1988

    BSc (Hons, 1st) in Physics
    University of Exeter, UK

  • 1992

    PhD in Physics
    University of Exeter, UK

  • 2002

    PGDip Management

  • 2011

    Company Directors Course

Professional Experiences

  • 2011-2014

    Stream Leader - Medical Devices

  • 2005-2006

    Theme Leader, “Security: Infrastructure and Public Safety”

  • 1997-2000

    Senior Production Manager
    AMBRI Pty Ltd

Achievements and Awards

  • Fellow
    Australian Institute of Physics

  • Graduate

Other highlights

  • 2005-2007

    Australian Institute of Physics - Federal Executive - Honorary Treasurer

  • 2011-2012

    Australian Institute of Physics - NSW Branch - Chair

  • 2016

    Chairman of Laboratories Credit Union

  • 2012

    Director of Laboratories Credit Union

  • 2009

    NSW Committee of AusMedtech

  • 2004

    NSW Executive Team of the Australian Institute of Physics


  • 2014-2017

    AISRF Grant for tuberculosis diagnosis (AUD2.3M)

  • 2016-2020

    NSW Building Business Innovation Program (AUD1.5M)

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2009

    Participant in Scientists in Schools

  • 2011

    First Aider

  • 2014

    Co-coordinator of the CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics

Related links


We have publications by Dr Scott Martin