News & Events

World-leading experimental quantum physicist joins University College Cork

Cork, Ireland, December 2018 – University College Cork (UCC) has appointed Professor Séamus Davis to spearhead a pioneering research programme to study Quantum Materials for Quantum Technology, in a joint appointment with the University of Oxford

The appointment of Professor Davis is supported in Ireland through a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship and an SFI Infrastructure Award, and in the UK via a European Research Council Advanced Grant Award.

Commenting on his appointment Prof. Davis said, “The rapidly accelerating Second Quantum Revolution promises truly transformative advances in science, industry, economy and society. In Ireland a spectacularly sophisticated research ecosystem has been nurtured and has rapidly grown, and I am very much looking forward to returning home to Cork and to working with my colleagues in University College Cork.”

The Davis-led research programme focuses on direct, atomic-scale visualization of electronic states in quantum materials, and requires a highly specialized ultra-low-vibration (ULV) laboratory environment. For Ireland, Prof. Davis’ programme will enhance the growing reputation in Ireland for quantum materials and quantum technology research. Moreover, establishing a flourishing joint research programme at UCC and Oxford will enhance the training and experience of the early-career researchers involved. In addition, Prof. Davis’ Programme will have a significant impact on European research excellence. At UCC, Prof. Davis plans to specifically engage with researchers at various SFI Research Centres including the Irish Photonics Integration Centre (IPIC), which is hosted at the Tyndall National Institute (TNI).

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: Awarding Professor Davis an SFI Research Professorship is a significant achievement for Ireland. Recruiting world- class researchers that have led ground-breaking research developments is a priority for the Irish Government, as is fostering partnerships with both national and global institutions. I am confident that Professor Davis will be a fantastic asset to the thriving research community in Cork, as well as to the economic and societal development of Ireland. I would like to welcome him to his new position on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, welcomed the appointment, saying: “It is fantastic to see Professor Séamus Davis bringing his wealth of knowledge and expertise in quantum physics to Ireland through the SFI Research Professorship Programme. We are very pleased to be working alongside University College Cork and the University of Oxford on Professor Davis’ Joint appointment, which will have a positive impact on Irish scientific research, and further enhance Ireland’s international reputation for excellence in research and innovation. This is the first joint appointment under the SFI Research Professorship programme and we hope to fund many more joint appointments in the future. Science Foundation Ireland previously awarded Professor Davis the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for his achievements in modern physics, and I would like to once again commend him for his excellent research and to extend a very warm welcome.”

Professor Patrick O’ Shea, President of University College Cork illustrated the pioneering research that Professor Davis will be engaged in: “We are delighted to have Professor Davis as a colleague who will lead the Second Quantum Revolution in Ireland. His work at the interface between discovery and innovation will be crucial in advancing us into this new age of opportunity.”

Obtaining a BSc in Physics at UCC in 1983, Séamus Davis would go on to become a global leader in the field of Quantum Matter. For the past 10 years Prof. Davis was the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell University and Senior Physicist at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences. In 2005 he was awarded the Fritz London Memorial Prize, the greatest honour in low-temperature physics, and in 2009 he was awarded the Kamerlingh Onnes Prize, named for the Nobel Laureate who discovered superconductivity. In 2016 he was a recipient of the prestigious SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for his dedication to physics. His outstanding research achievements to date include the design and demonstration of the first spectroscopic imaging scanning tunnelling microscope, the invention of quasiparticle interference imaging, breakthrough work on the Cooper-pairing mechanisms of correlated superconductors, discovery of the superfluid Josephson effect, and the discovery of several new phases of electronic matter.

Professor Ian Shipsey, Chair of the Physics Department and Henry Moseley Centenary Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford University commented: "I am thrilled that Seamus will be joining our very distinguished faculty. At Oxford with support from the university and our alumni we have just opened the Beecroft Building which houses one of the finest low vibration science facilities in the world. This is the perfect platform for Seamus to continue his ground breaking research utilising scanning tunneling and spectroscopic imaging scanning tunnelling microscopes that will be installed here. The new partnership between UCC and Oxford has the potential to make significant contributions to the Second Quantum Revolution teaching us new things about the universe in which we live and globally improving the human condition.

Professor Anita Maguire, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at UCC concluded “Having the Davis research team in Cork, in addition to the innovative partnership with Oxford, will ensure that Ireland is at the forefront of research in Quantum Technology”

For media queries contact: Eoin Hahessy, Head of Media & PR, UCC – 086 046 8950
Pictures will be supplied via Provision in the afternoon of Wednesday 19th December

Notes to editor
About Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. SFI funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. See