News and Views

UCC physicist awarded prestigious UK research award

9 Apr 2020
Professor Séamus Davis, University College Cork.

Professor Séamus Davis, who holds a joint position as Professor of Quantum Physics at University College Cork (UCC) and Professor of Physics at Oxford University has been awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship.

The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. 

The Research Professorships allow exceptional researchers to focus on ambitious and original research of the highest quality. 

Professor Seamus Davis studies exotic new quantum mechanical states of matter and is considered one of the world’s leading quantum mechanics scientists. A rapidly accelerating second quantum revolution is currently occurring and it will see the next generation of high-speed electronic devices which promise truly transformative advances in science, industry, economy, and society.

His Royal Society Research Professorship- Atomic-scale Visualization of Quantum Spin Liquids - aims to advance our understanding of the most enigmatic and challenging of these states, “quantum spin liquids”, by developing two new types of quantum microscopes - the first instruments capable of atomic-scale visualisations that are designed to observe quantum spin liquids directly. Spin liquids are materials in which every electron is quantum “entangled”, instantaneously influencing all the others by what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance". They rival dark matter in their power to stubbornly resist direct observation but understanding their properties will be vital for advancing the development of quantum computing and quantum materials.

In December 2018 UCC appointed Professor Séamus Davis to spearhead a pioneering research programme to study Quantum Materials for Quantum Technology, in a joint appointment with the University of Oxford. The appointment of Professor Davis was supported in Ireland through a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship and an SFI Infrastructure Award. 

Commenting on the awarding of the Royal Society Professorship to Professor Davis, Professor Anita Maguire, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at UCC stated, "I am delighted to see this prestigious award to support Seamus’ ground breaking research focused on atomic-scale visualisation of quantum spin liquids which will be conducted at Oxford University, while his work at UCC is supported by an earlier award from SFI. Significantly in the context of his joint appointment at Oxford and UCC, and the integrated research team across the two universities, the UCC scientists will benefit from the opportunity to work on the Royal Society funded spin liquid projects at Oxford."

Obtaining a BSc in Physics at UCC in 1983, Séamus Davis would go on to become a global leader in the field of Quantum Matter. For the past 10 years Prof. Davis was the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University and Senior Physicist at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences. In 2005 he was awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize, the greatest honour in low-temperature physics, and in 2009 he was awarded the Kamerlingh Onnes Prize, named for the Nobel Laureate who discovered superconductivity. In 2016 he was a recipient of the prestigious SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for his dedication to physics. His outstanding research achievements to date include the design and demonstration of the first spectroscopic imaging scanning tunnelling microscope, the invention of quasiparticle interference imaging, breakthrough work on the Cooper-pairing mechanisms of correlated superconductors, discovery of the superfluid Josephson effect, and the discovery of several new phases of electronic matter. 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

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