Dr Robert Collins is a Research Associate in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Within the Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPAQS) Robert is a member of the Single-Photon Group, carrying out broad range of world-leading research in photonic physics, engineering photonics and quantum sciences.

Robert won the Partnership Award for his work on the MacroPhoton Project, in partnership with the Quantum Communications Hub’s 'Quantum City' initiative.

How did the award winning partnership start?

In response to an open request from the Quantum City Public Engagement Initiative, Robert designed and built the MacroPhoton demonstrator. He received funding from both his department and the Quantum Communications Hub as well as support from group lead, Professor Gerald Buller, who allowed Robert and his colleagues the time to pursue public engagement activities.

What does the MacroPhoton demonstrator...demonstrate?

It introduces people to the concept of the polarisation of light by demonstrating the Bennett-Brassard 1984 quantum key distribution protocol. To put it another way, it shows how single photons can be used to encode, process and transmit information securely.

Why did Robert stand out as winner in the Partnership category?

By partnering with the Quantum Communications Hub, Robert and his team joined the Quantum City Public Engagement Initiative allowing them to showcase the MacroPhoton at a variety of large scale events throughout the year. More than 7,000 people engaged with the team at events such as the Cheltenham Science Festival, Glasgow Science Festival, New Scientist Live, and the Festival of Physics. 

The panel were also impressed with the creative engagement in such a challenging area; showing the application of quantum physics in real life. Activities were highly focused to engage specific audiences and are backed up by a strong quanitiative and qualitative evaluation cycle.

Where will the prize money go?

The prize money will be used to extend the functionality of the MacroPhoton by expanding the software to demonstrate the Ekert 1991 protocol, and add on an eavesdropping unit.