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2020 YIP Recipient Monica Allen Earns $450K Research Award

June 5, 2020 | By Cynthia Dillon

06052020-allen.jpgAssistant Professor of Physics Monica Allen. Photo by Michelle Fredricks, UC San Diego Physical Sciences

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), part of the Air Force Research Laboratory, recently announced nearly $20 million in grants to 42 scientists and engineers from 31 research institutions and businesses through its Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). Among the recipients is UC San Diego’s Monica Allen, assistant professor and Theodore D. Foster Endowed Chair in the Department of Physics, who will receive a three-year grant totaling $450,000. 

Allen conducts research in experimental condensed matter physics, with particular focus on characterization of quantum phenomena in topological materials, two-dimensional layered structures and superconductors. The Allen Lab develops new measurement approaches, such as low-temperature microwave imaging, to visualize electronic excitations in quantum materials.

Her winning YIP research proposal will investigate Majorana modes in hybrid devices that couple superconductivity with topological phases in heterostructures of 2D materials. Detection of such states is connected to open fundamental questions, such as the demonstration of non-abelian exchange statistics, and would also lay the groundwork for applications in quantum computing.

“As an early career researcher, I am deeply grateful to the AFOSR Young Investigator Program for the award, which will support development of new scanning probe microscopy techniques to visualize topological states in the GHz regime,” said Allen.

YIP’s objective is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators and increase opportunities for the young researchers to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering. This year, AFOSR received more than 220 proposals. A full listing of the 2020 YIP recipients is accessible here.

Allen is also lead principal investigator of a $3.5 million grant entitled, “Topological Materials for Majorana-Based Quantum Information,” which brings together a team of investigators at UC Davis, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Allen’s team is one of six recent recipients of a University of California Multicampus-National Lab Collaborative Research and Training Award, targeted at research that leverages UC-national lab synergy in quantum information science and other areas. These collaborations represent genuine engagement among faculty, laboratory scientists and students across UC campuses and Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.