UCC quantum researchers to gain access to Cornell labs as part of $1.6m grant

8 Jun 2020

Cornell University. Image: © ASP Inc/Stock.adobe.com

A number of UCC PhD students will receive a $1.6m funding grant for quantum research at Cornell University in the US.

PhD students under the guidance of University College Cork’s (UCC) Prof Séamus Davis will now gain access to funding under The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Grants awarded by the foundation provide 20 researchers with $1.6m each to support their work in the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) initiative.

The funding comes with unrestricted support over the next five years to pursue risky research with the potential for significant advances in the concepts and methods used to investigate quantum materials. This will see UCC investigators gain access to high-tech laboratories at Cornell University in the US.

Davis, who also holds academic positions in Cornell and Oxford University, is researching the macroscopic quantum physics of emergent quantum matter at low temperatures.

“Our group members from Cork, Cornell and Oxford travel between our labs, working together on research projects that use the complementary resources and instruments available at each site,” Davis said.

“An extraordinarily generous and inspiring element of the renewed Moore Foundation EPiQS programme is that it enthusiastically supports this research model.”

‘Unleash the creativity of the investigators’

One of the PhD students from UCC set to benefit from the grant, Niall Kennedy, described being able to access the Cornell labs as “exciting”, once it is deemed safe to travel following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am certain the experience and knowledge I will gain there will be a huge boost to my early career as a PhD student and also accelerate progress in the laboratory in UCC,” he said.

Amalia Fernandez-Pañella, programme officer in the EPiQS Initiative, said the Experimental Investigator awards are its largest grant portfolio.

“We expect that such substantial, stable and flexible support will propel quantum materials research forward and unleash the creativity of the investigators,” she said.

Davis was appointed the head of a joint Irish-UK research programme split between UCC and the University of Oxford back in 2018. Its focus is on direct, atomic-scale visualisation of electronic states in quantum materials, using the high-tech, ultra-low-vibration laboratory environment found at Oxford.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic