Dr Robert Simpson

Dr Robert Edward Simpson

Associate Professor

Contact details

Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering
School of Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Robert E. Simpson is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham. His current research interests include nanophotonic biomaterials, sensing, detectors, chalcogenide materials, phase change materials, and programmable photonics.

Robert’s research group aims to take fundamental discoveries in physics, materials, and photonics, and then exploit them to improve the quality of peoples’ lives. Robert believes that innovative solutions to real-world problems are created at the boundary of research fields and, therefore, his research group operates at these boundaries.


  • PhD in Optoelectronics, University of Southampton, 2008
  • MPhys in Physics, University of Bath, 2002
  • Member of the Optica
  • Member of the Institute of Physics


SUTD Explains: Rediscovering our Materials
Prof Robert Simpson: From data storage to programmable photonics

Robert received his PhD from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in the UK in 2008. After his PhD, Robert was awarded Marie Curie and Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) fellowships. His JSPS fellowship was spent at the Japanese National Institute for Applied Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), where Robert researched phase change data storage materials. The Marie Curie fellowship was held at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona, where he developed phase change material-tuneable photonics devices. In 2012, Robert formed the Advanced Chalcogenides Technologies & Applications Lab at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). ACTAlab’s remit was to exploit the exotic properties of chalcogenide materials to design high performance electronics, photonics, and sensing devices. In Jan 2023 Robert joined the department of Electrical, Electronic, and Systems Engineering (EESE) in the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham. In his previous institution Robert taught physics, statistics, and programming courses. Robert was also the co-director of the Innovation by Design Masters program.



Research interests

  • nanophotonic biomaterials
  • sensing & detectors
  • chalcogenide materials
  • phase change materials
  • programmable photonics
  • phase change data storage

Current projects

  • Black Silver Circulating Tumour DNA detector

Other activities

Associate Editor at the Optical Materials Express (OMEx) journal


  1. Simpson, R. E. et al. Interfacial phase-change memory. Nat Nanotechnol 6, 501-505, doi:10.1038/nnano.2011.96 (2011).
  2. Dong, W. L. et al. Wide Bandgap Phase Change Material Tuned Visible Photonics. Adv Funct Mater 29, doi:10.1002/adfm.201806181 (2019).
  3. Kalikka, J. et al. Strain-engineered diffusive atomic switching in two-dimensional crystals. Nat Commun 7, 11983, doi:10.1038/ncomms11983 (2016).
  4. Zhou, X. et al. Phase-Change Memory Materials by Design: A Strain Engineering Approach. Adv Mater 28, 3007-3016, doi:10.1002/adma.201505865 (2016).
  5. Lu, L. et al. Reversible Tuning of Mie Resonances in the Visible Spectrum. ACS Nano 15, 19722-19732, doi:10.1021/acsnano.1c07114 (2021).

View all publications in research portal