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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

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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.

Paul McEuen collaboration reports unique property of bilayer graphene

Imagine walking through the Northwest wilderness, camera phone at the ready, hoping to catch at least a faint glimpse of Bigfoot, and instead returning home with an Ansel Adams-quality picture of the mythical beast as he lumbers past you.

That’s kind of what a team led by physics professor Paul McEuen has done in research into the optical properties of single-atom-thick layers of graphene.

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Infrared light illuminates bilayer graphene and create an exciton – a pairing of electron and hole, locating mostly at the top and bottom layers, respectively, of carbon atoms.

Natasha Holmes Group to Develop a VR Curriculum with Oculus

Andrea Stevenson WonNatasha Grace HolmesJonathan Schuldt, and their labs will develop a curriculum to compare the effectiveness of learning activities through table-top activities, computer simulations, and immersive, hands-on simulation in VR to better understand the tradeoffs and advantages of each. Beyond rote learning, this study will measure conceptual understanding, attitudes, and motivation while exploring the mechanics of moon phases and their impact on tides and sea levels.

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Cartoon of Children in VR sets; Image courtesy Yale Center for Health & Learning Games