Dr Robert Bennett

I joined the University of Glasgow in April 2020, having spent my post-doctoral years at the University of Leeds, and the University of Freiburg, Germany where I also held a post-doctoral fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Society. This was after having completed my PhD at the University of Sussex in 2013, where I studied a problem at the intersection of quantum field theory and quantum optics, namely the environment-dependence of the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron.

Since then my research interests have branched out in several different directions, including Casimir/Casimir-Polder forces (with applications in trapping and manipulation of cold atoms), different types of resonant energy transfer (ultimately aiming to mimic photosynthesis) and a recent focus on algorithmic design of material structures that optimise the observables associated with any light-matter interaction. The geometries coming out of those algorithms almost never meet one's naive expectations, instead they are ‘messy’ and almost organic-looking. This shows that the best route to design of highly-efficient complex systems is not necessarily through ‘by hand’, intuitive design (e.g mirrors, lenses, focusing elements), but instead by taking inspiration from nature’s evolutionary processes.

I am also beginning several new projects related to chirality, the first of these being a proposal for technological exploitation of the recently developed 'photon BEC'. The 'winner takes all' nature of the condensation process (the winner being the lowest energy mode) means that the photon BEC can be used as a very sensitive detector of the chirality of its host medium. 

Selected publications

Bennett, R. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2020) Inverse design of light-matter interactions in macroscopic QED. New Journal of Physics, 22(9), 093014. (doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/abac3a)

Bennett, R. and O'Dell, D.H.J. (2019) Revealing short-range non-Newtonian gravity through Casimir–Polder shielding. New Journal of Physics, 21(3), 033032. (doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/ab0ca6)

Bennett, R. , Steinbrecht, D., Gorbachev, Y. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2020) Symmetry breaking in a condensate of light and its use as a quantum sensor. Physical Review Applied, 13(4), 044031. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.13.044031)

Bennett, R. , Votavová, P., Kolorenč, P., Miteva, T., Sisourat, N. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2019) Virtual photon approximation for three-body interatomic Coulombic decay. Physical Review Letters, 122(15), 153401. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.153401)

Fuchs, S., Bennett, R. , Krems, R. V. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2018) Nonadditivity of optical and Casimir-Polder potentials. Physical Review Letters, 121(8), 083603. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.083603)

Gack, N., Reitz, C., Hemmerich, J. L., Könne, M., Bennett, R. , Fiedler, J., Gleiter, H., Buhmann, S. Y., Hahn, H. and Reisinger, T. (2020) Signature of short-range van der Waals forces observed in Poisson spot diffraction with indium atoms. Physical Review Letters, 125(5), 050401. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.050401)

Hemmerich, J. L., Bennett, R. and Buhmann, S. Y. (2018) The influence of retardation and dielectric environments on interatomic Coulombic decay. Nature Communications, 9, 2934. (doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05091-x) (PMID:30050091) (PMCID:PMC6062586)

Stokes, A. and Bennett, R. (2015) The Casimir effect for fields with arbitrary spin. Annals of Physics, 360, pp. 246-267. (doi: 10.1016/j.aop.2015.05.011)