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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics


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Sol Gruner reflects on time at CHESS

Prof Sol Gruner wears many hats, including for the past 17 years that of director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS). As of July 1 Prof Gruner will pass that hat to Prof Joel Brock of applied and engineering physics. In the June 12 article in the Chronicle Prof Gruner reflects on his time as CHESS director and looking forward to more time to dedicate to his research.

Sol Gruner and Joel Brock at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source

Paul McEuen talks Graphene and Nanotubes with Discover Magazine

In the summer 2013 issue of Discover Magazine Prof Paul McEuen, Director of LASSP and the Kavli Institute at Cornell, gives a Q&A on advances in nanotechnology.

Preview the article at

Carbon Nano Tube

Savage and Cohen find crystals that melt when cooled

John Savage and Itai Cohen have observed an unexpected phenomena in large crystals that melt as they are cooled. Savage, who led the study, is a former postdoc associate for Itai Cohen.

Read more in the Chronicle

Prof. Eun-Ah Kim Receives Early Career Research Program Award

Professor of physics, Eun-Ah Kim was recently named one of sixty-one selectees for an Early Career Research Program Award from the US Department of Energy. 770 scientists submitted proposals for the award, now in its fourth year. A press release from the DOE stated that the award “supports the development of individual research programs of outstanding scientists early in their careers and stimulates research careers in the disciplines supported by the DOE Office of Science.”

Prof. Kim was chosen by the Basic Energy Sciences office of the DOE for her proposal titled, “Emergence of High Tc Superconductivity Out of Charge and Spin Ordered Phases.”

Kim joined Cornell’s faculty in 2008 and is also the recipient of an NSF Career Award.

To read the full list of awardees, click here.

Communicating Science: A Kavli Workshop for Scientists

Update May 28, 2013 -
The Chronicle has posted: reflections on the workshop and reflections on the public talk.

Join Alan Alda, The Kavli Foundation, and the Center for Communicating Science for an innovative workshop, May 21-24, 2013, at the Kavli Institute for NanoScale Science at Cornell in Ithaca, NY.

As host of Scientific American Frontiers, Alan Alda interviewed 700 scientists around the world. Now he is helping scientists learn to communicate effectively with the public, including public officials, funders, employers, students, the media, and potential collaborators in other disciplines.

There will be a a public lecture May 22 on science communication will be at 7:30 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall. Free tickets are available starting May 10 in 420 Physical Sciences Building, 242 Carpenter Hall and 260 Roberts Hall.

Information and registration for the three day workshop can be found at the Kavli Institute at Cornell.

Shekhawat, Sethna & Zapperi develop unified theory of fracture

Clean materials like glasses break abruptly. Complex materials like bones and seashells develop many small damaged regions (microcracks) before breaking. These microcracks happen with a broad, scale-invariant distribution of sizes reminiscent of earthquakes and crackling noise. But this can not be due to a phase transition, because as the system size goes to infinity the strength of disordered materials goes to zero. ‘Smaller is stronger’ really means ‘large is weak’ here — a rare, large damaged zone will cause an infinite system to fail at arbitrarily low stress – hence nothing else breaks. Ashivni Shekhawat, Stefano Zapperi, and James Sethna show that these precursor fracture events are due to ‘finite-size criticality’. At short length scales, all materials are sensitive to disorder; at long length-scales all behave like glass. They describe the smooth, finite-size crossover between these two regimes quantitatively using universal scaling functions and their leading corrections. Bones, seashells, and modern composite materials are tough because of this distributed damage — which we finally now understand clearly.

Read more in the Chronicle and in the viewpoint by Elisabeth Bouchaud.

Different types of crack formation predicted to occur in a brittle solid when the size of the system or the amount of disorder is varied.