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College of Arts and Sciences

New awards to enable ‘quantum’ leaps in research

By: Linda B. Glaser
Cornell Chronicle
May 28, 2020

Physicist J.C. Séamus Davis, the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $1.6 million five-year grant renewal from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) Initiative.

Davis is one of 20 U.S. scientists receiving the grant to pursue innovative and risky research with a potential for significant advances in the concepts and methods used to investigate quantum materials.

The goal, according to the EPiQS Initiative, is for the collective impact of these investigators to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental organizing principles of complex quantum matter in solids.

“The first cohort of EPiQS Experimental Investigators made advances that changed the landscape of quantum materials,” said Dušan Pejaković, director of the EPiQS Initiative. “Emergent phenomena appear when a large number of constituents interact strongly – whether these constituents are electrons in materials or the brilliant scientists trying to crack the mysteries of materials.”

In addition to grant funding, the 20 EPiQS investigators will participate in community-building activities, including investigator symposiums, topical workshops and the QuantEmX scientist exchange program.

“EPiQS support is the key unrestricted resource that allows us to explore unprecedented research avenues, and to respond in an agile fashion to discoveries and new opportunities,” said Davis, who will continue his collaboration with colleagues Eun-Ah Kim, professor of physics (A&S) and Darrell Schlom, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Industrial Chemistry in the College of Engineering.

Davis’ research focuses on the macroscopic quantum physics of emergent quantum matter, including studies of superconductors, superfluids and supersolids. He specializes in the development of innovative instrumentation to allow direct human visualization (or perception) of the macroscopic quantum physics of quantum matter.

Davis received his B.Sc. from University College Cork, Ireland, in 1983 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989. He joined the physics faculty at Cornell in 2003 and retired with emeritus status in 2019.

In addition to continuing his research program at Cornell, Davis also holds professorships at Oxford University and University College Cork.

“Our group members from Cornell, Oxford and Cork travel between our labs, working together on research projects that use the complementary resources and instruments available at each site,” Davis said. “An inspiring element of the renewed EPiQS program is that it enthusiastically supports this research model.”

Davis has received the Fritz London Memorial Prize (2005), the H. Kamerlingh-Onnes Memorial Prize (2009), the Science Foundation Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal (2016) and the O.V. Lounasmaa Memorial Prize (2020) among many honors.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Physics (U.K.), the American Physical Society, the Max Planck Society (Germany) and the Royal Irish Academy, and is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.