New Humboldt Fellow turns cavities research on its head

The MPSD’s Theory Department is delighted to welcome another Humboldt Fellow! Postdoc Mark Kamper Svendsen has been awarded a Research Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to investigate how optical cavities can be adapted to achieve specific changes in the materials placed inside them.

His research at the MPSD concentrates on the realistic descriptions of strongly coupled light-matter systems which properly account for both the electronic structure of the matter and the mode structure of the usually dispersive and lossy cavity setup. By developing computational methods, Mark and his colleagues aim to make quantitative predictions of what would happen to a particular molecule or material when it is placed inside a cavity environment.

“In my Humboldt project, we will leverage these methods to turn the problem on its head,” Mark explains. “Instead of asking what happens when we place something in a particular cavity, we will set a target change of matter properties and ask what cavity setup is needed to realize it. To answer this question, we will combine our new quantitative methods with techniques from inverse design and machine learning to autonomously generate a cavity that realizes the target property change.”

Although this is a fundamental research project, he hopes that the insights it will yield can be applied to real-life technologies further down the line. For example, optical cavities could be used to design innovative materials for specific tasks, from biosensing to light harvesting and quantum technologies.

The Fellowship will be a huge support for his work, says Mark: “I am very excited to be given the opportunity by the Humboldt foundation to pursue a fundamental project like this in a world leading environment like the MPSD Theory group, under the supervision of a world class scientist like Professor Rubio. I’ve already learned a lot in my time at the Institute, and I am looking forward to continuing to develop as a researcher during my Humboldt project.”

Mark joined the MPSD in 2023, having completed his Bachelor and MSc in Physics and Nanotechnology at the Technical Universities of Denmark (DTU) and Munich (TUM). Last year, DTU rewarded him with the Young Researcher Award for his PhD thesis, Light-Matter Interactions from First Principles. In 2022, he worked as a predoctoral fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Quantum Physics in New York as part of the career development program of the Max Planck New York City Center on Non-equilibrium Quantum Phenomena

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