Professor Mark Dennis

Professor Mark Dennis

School of Physics and Astronomy
Professor of Theoretical Physics

Contact details

School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Mark Dennis is Professor of Theoretical Physics in the Theoretical Physics Group.


  • PhD Theoretical Physics, University of Bristol
  • MSci Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of St Andrews


His research is primarily in the physics of waves (optical, electromagnetic, quantum, …), and how geometry and topology may be used to understand and control their propagation and scattering.

Particular interests include singular optics and structured light (optical vortices, optical angular momentum, polarization singularities), and applied topology in physics (especially applications of knot theory in optics, quantum mechanics and molecular biology).

He has published over 100 research papers, proceedings, reviews, and book chapters, working with various other theorists and experimentalists around the world.

Postgraduate supervision

Mark regularly supervises PhD students working in a wide range of topics in Theoretical Physics.  Please see his personal page for further details of projects.


  • Structured light and singular optics (optical vortices, knotted fields, superoscillation, beam shifts, ray-based semiclassics)
  • Applied knot theory (geometry and topology of knots, links, braids and ribbons, especially manifested in knotted fields and bio-molecules)
  • Statistical geometry and topology of random functions, and applications in quantum chaos, statistical optics and cosmology
  • Applied topology (including skyrmionics, computational geometry and topology)

Other activities

  • Editorial Board for JPhys Photonics (2018-)
  • Editorial Board for Proceedings of the Royal Society A (2014-)


Selected publications

Proteins analysed as virtual knots,
K Alexander, A J Taylor & M R Dennis, Scientific Reports 7 (2017) 42300 (arXiv: 1611.06185)                 

Vortex knots in tangled quantum eigenfunctions,
A J Taylor & M R Dennis, Nature Communications 7 (2016) 12346 (arXiv:1608.00909)

The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics,
N J Higham, M R Dennis, P Glendinning, P A Martin, F Santosa & J Tanner, editors,
Princeton University Press, 2015.

A super-oscillatory lens optical microscope for subwavelength imaging,
E T F Rogers, J Lindberg, T Roy, S Savo, J E Chad, M R Dennis & N I Zheludev,
Nature Materials 11 (2012) 432-35

Isolated optical vortex knots,
M R Dennis, R P King, B Jack, K O’Holleran & M J Padgett
Nature Physics 6 (2010) 118-21

Singular Optics: Optical Vortices and Polarization Singularities,
M R Dennis, K O’Holleran & M J Padgett, Progress in Optics 53 (2009) 293-363

Phase singularities in isotropic random waves,
M V Berry & M R Dennis, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A 456 (2000) 2059-79

Full list at

View all publications in research portal