Skip to main content


Centre for Doctoral Training in Photonic Integration and Advance Data Storage

Research Profile: Mawgan Smith

Educational Background and experience:  
- BSc Mathematics and Physics, 2016–2019,  Keele University, UK
Project: “Magnetic Hyperthermia of Magnetic Nanoparticles”
Investigated heating of magnetite nanoparticles under the influence of an alternating magnetic field.
- MSc Theoretical Physics, 2020-2021, University of Glasgow, UK
Project: “Weak Measurements in Phase Space” 
Investigated the effect of increasing coupling strength between measurement device and measured state in quantum phase space using a Wigner function derived for an optical birefringence measurement. 

CDT PhD Project: Giving Light a Spin: manipulating optical vector fields and polarisation with magnets 

Supervisor: Dr Rair Macêdo, Electronics & Nanoscale Engineering Division, James Watt School of Engineering, University of Glasgow 

Project description: 
Light’s fundamental properties such as propagation and intensity have been studied for millennia and are now well understood for many applications. In free space we understand light as symbiotic electric and magnetic fields, dancing through space together, always moving forward in a straight line. However, when light propagates through magnetic materials, this understanding begins to unwind. Propagation direction and beam shape can be easily altered, and this is the basis for several magnonic, spintronic and electronic devices including isolators, circulators, and gradient memories. 

A well-known example of how magnets can alter the properties of light is an effect called Faraday rotation—where a magnetic material is used to rotate the polarisation of electromagnetic waves. In my project, I am investigating how (and if) the photon polarisation effects, are affected by magnetisation dynamics. These dynamics are a processional response to an external magnetic field that can be further driven by microwave fields. In this way we can begin to control the magnetisation dynamics within different magnetic materials. Given that it is these very dynamics which may underlie effects such as Faraday rotation, in a sense the magnetic material becomes an intermediary, an information transducer, that could allow manipulation of optical light by microwaves. This presents not only an opportunity to design new magneto-optical devices, but also a pathway for microwave to optical information conversion. 

General Research/Science Interests: 
I am generally interested in electrodynamics, spintronics, photonics, quantum optics and information. My main research interests are the application of these fields to the exchange of information, mostly within the realm of light-matter interaction. 

It is no coincidence that some of the most mysterious and beautiful aspects of the physical world that have enchanted people for millennia, are the most studied and useful today. Magnetic materials are the harbinger of data storage in the modern era, and the nature of light is critical to communications infrastructure. Advancements in data storage and communication, in parallel with the development of new computing techniques, will rapidly drive us to the apex of this information age and perhaps begin to lead us beyond. Crucial to the utility of emergent technologies in these areas is the interface between them, inexorably bound to the union of these two wonders of the natural world and the domain of light-matter interaction.  

CDT Involvement: 
One of the lead organisers for PIADS Conclave 2022.

Contact me:
Work Address: 72 Oakfield Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8LS


The CDT is an inclusive research community that has allowed me to pursue research in various topics related to my interests. The learning phase of year one is a great opportunity, not just to further explore the research of this community, but to develop invaluable collaboration and teamwork skills while gaining insight into the workings of industry on local and global scales.

Queen's University Belfast Crest

University of Glasgow Crest