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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

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Jie Shan and Kin Fai Mak become the first to control atomically thin magnets with an electric field

Cornell researchers have become the first to control atomically thin magnets with an electric field, a breakthrough that provides a blueprint for producing exceptionally powerful and efficient data storage in computer chips, among other applications.

The research is detailed in the paper, “Electric-field switching of two-dimensional van der Waals magnets,” published March 12 in Nature Materials by Jie Shan, professor of applied and engineering physics; Kin Fai Mak, assistant professor of physics; and postdoctoral scholar Shengwei Jiang.

In 1966, Cornell physicist David Mermin and his postdoc Herbert Wagner theorized that 2-D magnets could not exist if the spins of their electrons could point in any direction. It wasn’t until 2017 that some of the first 2-D materials with the proper alignment of spins were discovered, opening the door to an entirely new family of materials known as 2-D van der Waals magnets.


Shan and Mak, who specialize in researching atomically thin materials, jumped on the opportunity to research the new magnets and their unique characteristics.

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optical microscope image of a monolayer and three bilayer devices on silicon substrates

Eun-Ah Kim's Research Highlighted by the DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy has highlighted Eun-Ah Kim's groups research on machine learning. 

Read all about it.

The schematic illustrates a snapshot of the electronic density of the system.

Natasha Holmes's Research Shows that Lab Activity doesn't Correlate with Brain Activity

“Although one may think that labs are inherently active, our research shows that in traditional labs students may be active with their hands but they’re not really active with their brains,” says Holmes. “Following rote procedures to get a proscribed outcome at the end isn’t doing a whole lot.”

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Physics Today

Paul McEuen and Itai Cohen Built "Muscle" for Microscale Machines

An electricity-conducting, environment-sensing, shape-changing machine the size of a human cell? Is that even possible?

Cornell physicists Paul McEuen and Itai Cohen not only say yes, but they’ve actually built the “muscle” for one.

With postdoctoral researcher Marc Miskinat the helm, the team has made a robot exoskeleton that can rapidly change its shape upon sensing chemical or thermal changes in its environment. And, they claim, these microscale machines – equipped with electronic, photonic and chemical payloads – could become a powerful platform for robotics at the size scale of biological microorganisms.

“You could put the computational power of the spaceship Voyager onto an object the size of a cell,” Cohen said. “Then, where do you go explore?”

“We are trying to build what you might call an ‘exoskeleton’ for electronics,” said McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. “Right now, you can make little computer chips that do a lot of information-processing … but they don’t know how to move or cause something to bend.”

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Michelle Wang's group develops new technique to track motor protein movement

Michelle Wang's  group published a paper, “Mfd Dynamically Regulates Transcription via a Release and Catch-up Mechanism,” Dec. 7 in the journal Cell. The lead author is postdoctoral researcher Tung Le of the Wang Lab.

The paper shows the bacterial protein "mutation frequency decline" (Mfd) mecanism for transcription conflicts.

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Eun-ah Kim's group proposes new topological superconductor

The Keck Foundation announced in early July that it had awarded $1 million to a Cornell cross-campus collaboration of professors in engineering and physics aimed at turning theory into reality – namely, creating a specific topological superconducting material that could help pave the way to quantum computing.

The idea that sparked the group’s winning proposal came out of the group led by Eun-Ah Kim, associate professor of physics, and is now the first published research from a member of that five-member group.

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The metal-quantum paramagnet heterostructure proposed by a research group led by Eun-Ah Kim. The metal provides the charge carriers; the QPM provides a pairing interaction via spin fluctuations.