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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

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Cohen group unravel root cause of plant twists and turns

To feed the world’s burgeoning population, producers must grow crops in more challenging terrain – where plant roots must cope with barriers. To that end, Tzer Han Tan, the Itai Cohen group and Boyce Thompson Institute plant biologists have uncovered a valuable plant root action, in that roots – when their downward path is blocked, as often occurs in rocky soil – display a “grow and switch” behavior, now reported in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Prof Chris Henley, who passed away last June, also contributed to the research.

Read more in the Chronicle



plant root growth

Vinay Ambegaokar Receives 2015 John Bardeen Prize

Last week in Geneva Switzerland Vinay Ambegaokar received the 2015 John Bardeen Prize for his contributions to the statics, dynamics and kinetics of Josephson junctions and nanowires.

More on the prize at:

Also see the award announcement in the Chronicle.

Photo credit: Lionel Windels

Vinay Ambegaokar receives 2015 Bardeen Prize

Uyen Nguyen's Origami Art Featured in VOGEL Fashions

UPDATE Aug 5, 2015

Check out the article in the Chronicle and the new video...


Uyen Nguyen's origami art is part of a VOGEL collection that features creased textiles. For info on the collection see Nguyen works in the Cohen group studying the mechanical properties of Origami and designing materials with tailored mechanical properties.

Origami Fashion

Vengalattore group develop novel quantum resonators

Mukund Vengalattore's group has developed a novel method of manipulating mechanical resonators to be sensitive enough to work at the quantum scale.

Read more in the Chronicle and in The Times of India and the article in Physics Review Letters.


McEuen group twists and folds graphene like paper

Physicists in the McEuen research group use the principles of kirigami to manipulate graphene, laying the groundwork for future nano-machines. Both Co-Directors of KIC, Paul McEuen and David Muller, contributed to the July article in Nature. Read more and see videos of the graphene kirigami in action in the Cornell Chronicle.


Physics professor Chris Henley dies at 59

By Anne Ju
Reprinted from The Chronicle.

Christopher L. Henley, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, died June 29 after an illness. He was 59 years old.

Henley joined the Cornell faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor of physics, was promoted to associate professor in 1993, and became a full professor in 2001. Before that, he was an assistant professor at Boston University and also worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

At Cornell, Henley's research was in the theory of frustrated magnetism, both classical and quantum; interacting electron systems; quasicrystals; and biological physics.

In interacting electron systems, Henley's research group worked on the border of analytic theory and computation. They studied the ground states of a spinless fermion lattice model with supersymmetry. They also worked on phenomenology of scanning tunneling microscopy measurements in high-temperature superconductors.

In biological physics, Henley led projects in pattern formation and mechanics, specifically a large project about the physical bases of left/right symmetry breaking in various animals including snails; in plants; or in assemblies of single cells. He also was fascinated by the exterior shell geometry of viruses and worked to model the mechanics of plant roots.

Paul McEuen, the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, called Henley a “brilliant scientist.”

“He was interested in almost anything, unafraid of applying his careful and precise approach to wild and wooly problems in fields ranging from quantum physics to biology,” McEuen said.

“He was a productive colleague, dedicated mentor and deeply committed to intellectual and academic pursuits,” said Jeevak Parpia, professor of physics. “He will be missed by all of us.”

Last September, Henley's colleagues and friends came together to celebrate his 59th birthday and his contributions to the field of theoretical solid-state physics. The symposium included an international panel of speakers.

Henley was born Sept. 24, 1955, in Washington, D.C., to Norman F. and Nancy Henley. He received a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1977 and his doctorate in physics from Harvard University in 1983. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and was the recipient of many professional honors, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a Presidential Young Investigator Award.

When young, according to his mother, he had a strong interest in maps and was a precocious navigator for his family's trips. In adulthood, Henley ran, swam or bicycled every day, and enjoyed hiking, reading, contra dancing, classical music and Scrabble, among other things.

Henley was given a natural burial in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. He is survived by his mother, son, aunt and cousins.

Chris Henley