26/08/2015 10:42 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Nanocrystals That Illuminate Hidden Diseased Cells Among Eureka Winners

Gary Cranitch

Australia's top researchers were celebrated on Wednesday night for their outstanding contributions in their field at the annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes -- or as it’s more affectionately known -- the Oscars for science.

Over a gala dinner at Sydney’s Town Hall,16 prizes were awarded in four categories -- research and innovation, leadership, science communication and journalism, and school science.

Queensland Museum photographer Gary Cranitch took out the New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography for his image, Soft Coral, while a team of researchers from Sydney and Melbourne who unlocked a mechanism that triggers stem cell production in blood were awarded the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

But perhaps the most impressive of all was the Super Dots team, who developed fluorescing nanocrystals that “switch on” at different times, shining short bursts of light -- just tens of millionths of a second at time -- that can reveal diseased cells.

In other words, they have managed to create a real-time diagnosis of disease in the body -- comparable to finding a needle in a haystack.

Scroll down to for all 16 winners.

Eureka's Science Photography Of The Year

Photo gallery Eureka Prize for Science Photography 2015 See Gallery

Eureka Award Winners 2015

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research:

Winner: Professor David Keith and the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Team.

A global standard for environmental threats from coral reef to desert dunes

University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research:

Winner: Professor Dayong Jin, Professor Tanya Monro and Professor Bradley Walsh.

World’s smallest, brightest nano-flashlights finding a diseased needle in a haystack

Scopus Eureka Prize for Excellence in International Scientific Collaboration:

Winner: Professor Dacheng Tao.

Looking for the right face in a multidimensional crowd

Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research:

Winner: Pellegrini and Ebert Team.

Time to die: killing cells to save lives

ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology:

Winner: Associate Professor Frank Bruno, Dr Martin Belusko and Dr Steven Tay.

Melting salt to store solar power

Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher:

Winner: Associate Professor Michael Biercuk.

Inventing a quantum industry for Australia

Defence Science and Technology Group Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science for Safeguarding Australia:

Winner: Northrop Grumman M5 Network Security.

Battlefield communication by mobile, wi-fi and satellites

Rural Research and Development Corporations Eureka Prize for Rural Innovation:

Winner: Professor David Raftos.

Vaccines for oysters

University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Scientific Research:

Winner: Professor Peter Currie, Dr Georgina Hollway and Phong Nguyen.

Making blood on demand with stem cells?

3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science:

Winner: Dr Phillip Urquijo.

Looking beyond physics’ Standard Model

CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science:

Winner: Professor Michelle Simmons.

Leading Australia’s quantum future

University of Technology Sydney Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers:

Winner: Professor Marilyn Renfree.

Nurturing the next generation of Australian researchers

Department of Industry and Science Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research:

Winner: Professor Emma Johnston.

Speaking science underwater

Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography:

Winner: Queensland Museum photographer Gary Cranitch.

Soft Coral

University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Primary:

Winners: Georgia Souyave-Murphy and Ella Woods.

Cry Stoppers

University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Secondary:

Winner: Paige Bebee.

The Secret of the Appendix