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Kent Leung

Assistant Professor, Physics and Astronomy

Richardson Hall 269A
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Upcoming student drop-in hours (in Richardson 269A): Fri 05/06 3-5pm, Tue 05/10 3-5pm

Work phone (call/text): +1 (973) 826-7001‬

BS & MS: University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand (2005 & 2007)
Doctor of Natural Science: Technical University of Munich, Germany (2007-2013)
PhD student research fellow: Institute Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France (2007-2011)
Post-doc: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2013-2017)
Research Assistant Professor: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2017-2020)
Assistant Research Professor: Duke University, Durham, NC (2020-2021)
Adjunct affiliated faculty: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC (2021-current)

My research interests are in nuclear physics, fundamental symmetries, and searches for Beyond Standard Model physics. I am particularly interested in low-energy, high-precision experiments, performed at low-temperatures involving neutrons. These experiments allow us to address fundamental questions, such as:
- How was more normal matter than anti-matter generated during the Big Bang?
- Are there undiscovered forces or particles out there, and could these explain the missing Dark Matter?
- What are the symmetries of our physical laws? Why are some violated, some conserved, and some extremely fine-tuned?
- How did the primordial light elements form during the Big Bang?
- How do protons, neutrons, and quarks interact to form nuclei?

In order to push our experiments to the next-level of precision, we constantly implement and develop cutting-edge technologies. The interdisciplinary techniques I'm interested in are, for example, cryogenic devices and apparatuses involving superconductors and superfluid helium at milli-Kelvin temperatures, quantum sensors for magnetic and electric fields, nuclear magnetic resonance with hyper-polarized gases at low fields, scintillation and fluorescence radiation detection, synthesis of high-purity deuterated polymers and coatings, and surface morphology and properties measurements.

I was a first-generation university student from asylum-seeking parents in Hong Kong who then immigrated to New Zealand, where I grew up. I got hooked on physics after reading A Brief History of Time by the brilliant Stephen Hawking during my final year of high school, a time when I was unsure about university. I am a firm believer that diverse backgrounds serve to enrich physics. I try to link physics to everyday experiences in the classroom to highlight that it is not obscure and esoteric, but, rather, physics is in action everywhere around us. Physics is a leading driving force of current and future technologies and is essential for in-depth understanding in a diverse range of fields.

For students: I am always seeking motivated students to participate in research projects with me during the semester or over the summer. Undergraduate research experience gives you the opportunity become a "practicing scientist". It will expose you to the nature of scientific investigation while permitting you to gain skill in project design, to use appropriate instruments and techniques, to engage in data analysis, and to communicate complex ideas. Every student can benefit from such an experience and it is difficult to achieve some of these educational benefits through traditional classes and course laboratories. If you are interested, contact me for both paid opportunities or for self-study course credits.

Courses for Fall 2021: Physics 191 (University Physics I)

Committees for 2021:
Physics Dept. Elections/Voting Committee (EVC)
Physics Club faculty advisor
Physics Dept. Scholarship Committee
CSAM Facilities Committee Physics Dept. representative
Physics Assessment Committee