Prof. Séamus Davis. Photo: Tomas Tyner/UCC

UCC prof wins major award

A professor of quantum physics in Cork has become the 1st Irish winner of a major international award, it was announced this week.

Prof. Séamus Davis was, on Tuesday, named as the recipient of the 2023 O.E. Buckley Physics Prize by the American Physical Society. It’s an accolade that recognises 25 years’ of work and the award has been presented to Prof. Davis in recognition of his development of quantum microscopes that allow direct atomic scale imaging of quantum matter existing within advanced materials.

Presented annually since 1953, a total of 18 recipients of the Buckley Prize have also won the Nobel Prize in Physics in the past 69 years.

He is also the Professor of Physics at the Clarendon Lab at the University of Oxford.

He 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.

“A useful analogy would be to look at what is happening in science of space. Scientists have long held theories about our galaxy and beyond – but now we are sending huge telescopes into space which are capturing images which are giving us the proof of what is out there. We are doing something similar, with the inner space of quantum materials,” he said.

UCC is the 1st Irish institution to host a winner of the award. Congratulating Prof. Davis, UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said: “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.”

Prof. Sarah Culloty, Head of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science at UCC said: “I would like to congratulate Professor Davis on receiving this distinguished accolade. His outstanding scientific and technological endeavours have advanced our understanding of quantum physics, and we are proud that he is continuing his pioneering work at UCC.”