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Yong Chen - 2021 Herbert Newby McCoy Award

Yong Chen

Herbert Newby McCoy Distinguished Lecture

In this talk, Dr. Chen discusses several research stories where novel molecules and materials are made with fascinating quantum effects that promise new physics and chemistry.


Yong P. Chen received his BSc and MSc degrees in mathematics from Xi'an Jiaotong University and MIT respectively, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. After doing a postdoc in physics and nanotechnology at Rice University, he joined the faculty of Purdue University in 2007 and has become the Karl Lark-Horovitz Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Director of Purdue Quantum Science and Engineering Institute. He has also held various international affiliated faculty and research appointments, and is currently on leave to Aarhus University, Denmark as a professor and Villum Investigator. His group works on a wide range of quantum matters and their applications, and has made important contributions to the study of graphene, topological insulators, and cold atoms & molecules. He was a recipient of Masao Horiba Award, NSF CAREER Award, DOD Young Investigator Award and IBM Faculty Award. He is an elected Fellow of American Physical Society (APS) and currently also serves as a commissioner in International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), and a member of the Governance Advisory Board (GAB) of Quantum Science Center, a Department of Energy Quantum Information Science Research Center that was funded in 2020 with $115 million over five years.

Making Quantum Matter


Much of our life and future depend on man's ability to make, control and use new molecules and materials. Recent developments in "quantum science and technology" have brought many unprecedented opportunities and directions in such endeavors. I will describe our research and innovations on synthesis and studies of various quantum matters (materials and molecules) where novel quantum states can profoundly influence observed physical or chemical behaviors. For example, our development of bottom-up-chemically-synthesized graphene has significantly expanded experimental studies and applications of this first "two-dimensional material", where electrons can behave like relativistic quantum particles, and helped reveal some of the fascinating resulting properties. Our pursuit of better "topological insulators" (another example of quantum materials with relativistic-like electrons) may provide a platform to further realize exotic forms of superconductors and new types of quantum devices. Engineering atomic quantum states and superpositions has enabled us to observe a quantum interference in molecular formation, which may inspire a new approach of "quantum controlled" chemical reaction and intriguing questions connecting quantum materials and chemistry.

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