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Physicist Mengkun Liu Receives Moore Foundation Award to Study Nanoscale Quantum Phenomena

Mengkun photo large

Mengkun photo largeStony Brook, NY – August 30, 2023 – Mengkun Liu, PhD, Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University, has received a $1.25 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of its Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative. Allocated over the next five years, this award is dedicated to supporting the ambitions of investigators at the forefront of experimental physics research. Professor Liu is one of 21 scientists to receive a grant in the initiative’s second round of funding.

With the core focus of driving advancements in the field of experimental physics, the initiative invests in innovative projects at the bleeding edge of scientific discovery that may otherwise lack available funding. In professor Liu’s case, the grant will support the study of polaritons, miniscule excitations that comprise aspects of light and material and behave like particles. This research aims to visualize and better understand these particle-like structures by studying how polaritons in low dimensional systems react to the presence of a magnetic field.

“This Moore Foundation Award has provided me and my colleagues with the unique opportunity to embark on uncharted territories of condensed matter experiments,” said Professor Liu. “It allows us to investigate nano-optics and the complexities of nanoscale quantum phenomena at cryogenic temperatures, all while navigating the challenges posed by high magnetic fields.”

In addition to enhancing scientific understanding of the natural world, projects funded through the Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative must demonstrate practices that promote inclusion and equitable access to education and career development within the experimental physics community.

“This is a highly coveted award that allows the winning investigator to pursue cutting-edge research which would be very difficult to pursue otherwise,” said Chang Kee Jung, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “With this award, Mengkun can make crucial upgrades to his infrared near-field microscopes, while also creating a new avenue for investigating nanoscale quantum phenomena in the presence of high magnetic fields. In 2021, Mengkun received an NSF Early CAREER award for his outstanding research accomplishments and potential, and his continued pioneering research in nano-physics led to this richly-deserved Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative award.”

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University — New York’s flagship university and No. 1 public university — is going far beyond the expectations of today’s public universities. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. With more than 24,000 students, more than 2,800 faculty members, more than 200,000 alumni, a premier academic healthcare system and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs, Stony Brook is a research-intensive distinguished center of innovation dedicated to addressing the world’s biggest challenges. The university embraces its mission to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality, and is ranked among the top 35 public universities by Forbes and one of the top 80 universities in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges listing. Fostering a commitment to academic research and intellectual endeavors, Stony Brook’s membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places it among the top 65 research institutions in North America. The university’s distinguished faculty have earned esteemed awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Stony Brook has the responsibility of co-managing Brookhaven National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy — one of only eight universities with a role in running a national laboratory. Providing economic growth for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region, the university totals an impressive $7.23 billion in increased economic output on Long Island. Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter(@stonybrooku)


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