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Séamus Davis Images Electron Pairing in a Simple Magnetic Superconductor

In the search for understanding how some magnetic materials can be transformed to carry electric current with no energy loss, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cornell University, and collaborators have made an important advance: Using an experimental technique they developed to measure the energy required for electrons to pair up and how that energy varies with direction, they've identified the factors needed for magnetically mediated superconductivity—as well as those that aren't.

"Our measurements distinguish energy levels as small as one ten-thousandth the energy of a single photon of light—an unprecedented level of precision for electronic matter visualization," said Séamus Davis, Senior Physicist at Brookhaven the J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell, who led the research described in Nature Physics. "This precision was essential to writing down the mathematical equations of a theory that should help us discover the mechanism of magnetic superconductivity, and make it possible to search for or design materials for zero-loss energy applications."

Read more from from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

superconducting electron pairs

Eun-Ah Kim and Paul McEuen discover 'electrical highways' in graphene

LASSP faculty Eun-Ah Kim and Paul McEuen are taking two approaches to understanding bilayer graphene and its potential as a semiconductor. Prof McEuen leads an experimental group that revealed the presence of structural solitons in bilayer graphene. Prof Kim's group predicted that these solitons will act as ‘electrical highways’ allowing electrons to shoot from one end of the graphene sheet to the other.

Read more in the Chronicle.

Three dark field-transmission electron microscopy images of bilayer graphene are overlaid with colors to show diffraction angles.

Kathryn McGill attends training on communicating science

Grad students Kathryn McGill of LASSP, and Flip Tanedo of LEPP attended training on communicating science in June. The Communicating Science Conference (ComSciCon) showcases efforts to make current advances in science accessible to the public. McGill has developed her interest in scientific outreach into her YouTube channel: The Physics Factor.

Read more in the Chronicle.

Michelle Wang Discovers Measurements of Torque in the Supercoiling of DNA

Prof Michelle Wang was published online in the journal Science on June 27 with Jie Mu, a postdoctoral associate, and Lu Bai, former graduate student here at Cornell but now is an assistant professor at Penn State, for their findings in the measurement of the tiny torques in the supercoiling of DNA. Supercoiling is caused by enzymes that travel along DNA’s helical groove that exert force and torque as they move along.

Wang was able to measure torque generated by the motor protein, E. coli RNA polymerase (RNAP) by using an angular optical trap (AOT). This technique may enable any future research in the supercoiling associated with other motor proteins or it may lead to the new findings of other gene transcription processes.

This study is titled “Transcription Under Torsion” and is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Mesical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Read more in the Chronicle and the full article in Science.

DNA Traps

Erich Mueller Receives The Robert A. and Donna B. Paul Academic Advising Award in the College of Arts & Sciences

After four years serving as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Physics, Prof. Erich Mueller receives the Paul Fellowships for Academic Advising in the College of Arts & Sciences. This award was established in 1992 to recognize faculty and lecturers to honor undergraduate advisers and/or mentors who positively impact the lives of Cornell students.

See the Paul Fellowships page for more on the accomplishments of Prof. Mueller.

Erich Mueller

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