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14 April 2016
HKUST Physicist Prof Gyu Boong Jo Won the Croucher Innovation Award 2016
Prof Gyu Boong Jo, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), was honored with the prestigious Croucher Innovation Award 2016 by the Croucher Foundation for his distinguished scientific research achievements. The award carries a value of HK$5 million over a span of five years. Prof Rosie Young, GBS, JP, officiated at the award presentation ceremony yesterday.

Prof Jo’s main research area focuses on the realization of synthetic quantum system using ultracold matters, namely a dilute gas of ultracold atoms. To that end, his team adopted the experimental technique from the Atomic Molecular Optical (AMO) physics to control atoms at around 100 billionth of 1 Kelvin above the absolute zero temperature, and made several major discoveries in this field over the past decade. He found ways to preserve the non-classical quantum state for a long coherence time using ultracold atoms, and realized a new family of materials in a complicated crystalline structure called Kagome Lattice, which simulates the traditional Japanese woven bamboo pattern. The findings have not only inspired researchers around the world to continue to characterize this quantum effect in efforts to create better inertial sensors, gyroscopes, magnetometers and gravimeters, but also hold promise for applications in the next-generation information storage and processing.

With the generous support of the Croucher Foundation, Prof Jo plans to implement a high resolution optical microscope in his apparatus to probe further the local property of cold atom samples. “By using a highly controllable synthetic material as a model system, we seek to understand better the many-body system in condensed-matter to unearth more exotic quantum systems that are not available in traditional solid-state materials. This could help discover new materials or systems that may apply in future material science or quantum information science.” he said.

Prof Jo joined HKUST as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics in 2013. After receiving his Bachelor degrees in physics and mathematics from Seoul National University, he continued his PhD in atomic physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was awarded the Samsung Foundation Graduate Fellowship in 2004-2009. He then joined the University of California, Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow from 2010 to 2013. He was the winner of AKPA Outstanding Young Research Award and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Early Career Award in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Established in 2012, the Croucher Innovation Awards aim to identify a small number of exceptionally talented scientists working at an internationally competitive level and to offer substantial support to these “rising stars” at a formative stage in their careers. The scheme is designed to enable recipients to pursue their own scientific, intellectual and professional inclinations, to advance their expertise, to engage in bold new work, and to contribute to the development of education and research in Hong Kong.