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UCC professor becomes first Irish recipient of major science award

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UCC Professor Séamus Davis. Credit: UCC.ie (Picture by Tomas Tyner)

UCC Professor Séamus Davis. Credit: UCC.ie (Picture by Tomas Tyner)

UCC Professor Séamus Davis. Credit: UCC.ie (Picture by Tomas Tyner)

A UCC professor has become the first Irish recipient of one of the most prestigious awards in world science.

Séamus Davis, Professor of Quantum Physics at UCC, has been named as the recipient of the Oliver E Buckley Prize in Condensed Matter Physics.

Presented annually since 1953, a total of 18 recipients of the Buckley Prize have also won the Nobel Prize in Physics over the past 69 years. Prof Davis will be presented with his award at the upcoming American Physical Society conference in Las Vegas. 

The academic is also a professor of physics at the Clarendon Lab in the University of Oxford. 

The Buckley Prize has been presented to him in recognition of his development of quantum microscopes that allow direct atomic scale imaging of quantum matter existing within advanced materials. The award represents the successful culmination of 25 years of work. 

Discussing the significance of his research, Prof Davis said: “New materials are constantly created in laboratories around the world. Previously, to properly understand these new materials, we would observe some of their characteristics, develop theories based on these observations, test these and develop further theories based on what we would learn.

“This means it was taking years, if not decades in some cases, to develop a full profile of materials. What we have done is developed approaches and designs that allow us to extract direct atomic scale imaging of even the most complex electronic structure, giving us an almost instant and complete profile of these materials.”

He added: “This work has spanned 25 years and there have been hundreds of contributors in that time – too many to thank individually. I would, however, like to thank all those who have supported our quantum microscope concept, since it started at UC Berkeley in the 1990s, matured at Cornell University in the 2000s and has now become operational at UCC.”

UCC President, Professor John O’Halloran, described Prof Davis’ success as a “very significant scholarly achievement”. 

"We are so proud of the extraordinary work that Séamus is doing in leading some of the world’s greatest discoveries on quantum physics. We are so lucky to have Séamus leading out this ground-breaking work, generously supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Quantum and photonics are one of the recently announced thematic areas for UCC Futures research at UCC and this award will give further momentum to this initiative,” he said.

Meanwhile, Science Foundation Ireland director general, Philip Nolan, added: “This distinguished award recognises his pioneering scientific research in quantum physics. We at Science Foundation Ireland are delighted to have supported his research. I’m sure his achievement will inspire future researchers, and we wish him continued success with his ground-breaking work.”

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