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LASSP -  Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics

Cornell Laboratory for Atomic and Solid State Physics

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Mellnik and Ralph pioneer use of spin torque in efficient computer memory

Alex Mellnik and Dan Ralph, in partnership with Nitin Samarth at Penn State, have a novel approach to computer memory they call a "topological insulator." Using the spin orientation of electrons their approach could lead to memory devices that are 10 times more efficient than any other known methods.

Read more in Science Codex.

The atomic layers of the topological insulator bismuth selenide are visible in this high-resolution electron microscope image

Vaezi advances the quest for quantum computing

Abolhassan Vaezi, Bethe posdoctoral fellow in LASSP, has come up with a key piece of the theoretical puzzle in the quest for quantum computing.

Read about his work in the Chronicle.

Schematic setup of a fractional topological superconductor.

Remembering Geoffrey Chester

Geoffrey V. Chester, professor emeritus of physics and dean emeritus of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, died June 27 at age 86 in Ithaca.

Chester's obituary is available in the Cornell Chronicle.

Geoffrey Chester

Christopher L. Henley Symposium - September 12, 2014

Announcing a Symposium and Celebration for the 59th birthday of Professor Christopher L. Henley. Join with Professor Henley, friends and colleagues as we celebrate his contributions to the field of theoretical solid state physics. Our international panel of speakers will cover topics inspired by Henley's work in biophysics, quasicrystals, frustration, and interacting electrons and numerical methods.

For the Program and Registration see

Christopher Henley Symposium Sept 12, 2014

Mak, McEuen & McGill test out new semiconductor

Kin Fai Mak, Paul McEuen, Jiwoong Park (chemistry and chemical biology) and Kathryn McGill have tested out molybdenum disulfide as a seminconductor with the potential to create smaller, more efficient computers.

Read more in the Chronicle and the article in Science.

Atoms of molybdenum (gray) and sulfur (yellow) are shown in a two-dimensional crystal formation

Matthew Reichl and Erich Mueller describe new way for lasers to generate flow in atomic clouds

Recent theoretical work by Reichl and Mueller (to be published in Physical Review A) describes how to engineer and probe an exotic state of matter called a "topological insulator" in a gas of atoms cooled to temperatures near absolute zero. Topological insulators have the remarkable property that they act like insulators in their interior but  can conduct along their surfaces or edges. They are not only of fundamental interest to physicists but have important applications in electronics and quantum computation. To engineer such a state, the authors imagine an experiment where ultracold atoms are trapped in a lattice with laser beams and made to behave like a topological insulator by modulating the lasers to change the shape of the lattice periodically in time. The smoking-gun signature of a topological insulator is the presence of "edge states"- conduction channels appearing at the boundaries of the system. Using computer simulations, the authors demonstrate how a clump of atoms released at the boundary will remain grouped together and will propagate- or "conduct"- along the boundary (see attached animation). Reichl and Mueller's proposal provides a straightforward and accessible way to generate and probe topological insulators in experiments using ultracold atoms. Such experiments will allow physicists to learn more about this fascinating state of matter.

atoms conduct along boundary of topological insulator system