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Skibb professor is first Irish winner of physics prize

October 22nd, 2022 5:50 PM

By Elaine O'Donovan

Professor Séamus Davis from Skibbereen is the first Irish person to get the international recognition for physics. (Photo: Tomas Tyner)

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A SKIBBEREEN professor has won one of the most prestigious awards in world science.

Séamus Davis, Professor of Quantum Physics at UCC, is the recipient of the 2023 Oliver E Buckley Prize in Condensed Matter Physics.

Prof Davis will be presented with the award at a ceremony in Las Vegas at the annual conference of the American Physical Society.

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.

Also the Professor of Physics at the Clarendon Lab. at the University of Oxford, Prof Davis is the first Irish recipient of the award, and UCC is the first Irish institution to host a winner of the award.

An accolade that recognises 25 years’ of work, 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.

He explains: ‘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 said the work has spanned 25 years.

‘ ‘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.’

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