ALMOST two decades after pioneering high-speed wireless technology, John O'Sullivan has won one of the nation's top science gongs.
The CSIRO scientist was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister's Prize for Science for 2009 for his WiFi technology now found in millions of laptops, printers, wireless access devices and even Nintendo's Wii.
Dr O'Sullivan and his team found a way to speed up wireless networks in 1992 - a problem that had international scientists stumped.
The idea has since generated a windfall for the CSIRO to the tune of $205 million and counting.
Dr O'Sullivan will receive $300,000 at a gala event in Canberra.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the award recognised Dr O'Sullivan's contribution to astronomy as well as wifi technology.
"While looking for exploding black holes Dr O'Sullivan created a technology that cleaned up intergalactic radio waves," Mr Rudd said.
"Then in 1992, he and his colleagues at CSIRO realised that the same technology was the key to fast, reliable wireless networking in the office and home."
Dr O'Sullivan and the CSIRO team beat 22 international labs to solve the "multipath" problem - the interference caused by reflected radio waves that slows network speeds.
They found a way to accelerate them by splitting radio channels apart, making wireless about five times faster.
The CSIRO waged a long-running legal battle against big computer companies such as Microsoft for using the technology without paying.
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