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Brad Ramshaw Named CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar

Brad Ramshaw, the Dick & Dale Reis Johnson Assistant Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, have been named CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars.

CIFAR’s global scholars program supports outstanding early-career researchers through mentorship, an international network and professional skills development. The scholars also receive $100,000 CAD in unrestricted research support for two years.

McMahon and Ramshaw are among 13 recipients who were selected from 184 applications from 31 countries. The 2020-22 scholars represent academic institutions in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Cornell is the only university with more than one scholar in this year’s cohort.

In addition to funding emerging projects in interdisciplinary theme areas such as Life and Health, and Information and Matter, the program also helps the researchers connect with their peers.

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Eun-Ah Kim's Group Create First Model of Planckian Behaviour Down to Absolute Zero

A Cornell-led collaboration has used state-of-the-art computational tools to model the chaotic behavior of Planckian, or “strange,” metals. This behavior has long intrigued physicists, but they have not been able to simulate it down to the lowest possible temperature until now.

The team’s paper, “Linear Resistivity and Sachdev-Ye-Kitaev (SYK) Spin Liquid Behaviour in a Quantum Critical Metal with Spin-1/2 Fermions,” published July 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study’s lead author is doctoral student Peter Cha.

Leading the collaboration is Eun-Ah Kim, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, who is interested in the social phenomena of electrons and how they interact as a society, with all the complications that entails.


“Just as we have social distancing recommendations at the order of our governor, electrons have social distancing recommendations at the order of Mother Nature,” Kim said. “But exactly how this social distancing order resulted in this particular, maximally chaotic behavior has been a mystery. How do you go from the mandate of, okay, you’re all repelling each other, to this particular form of chaotic, incongruent behavior? It suggests there is something in this very confusing state that is a seed for a very organized state.”

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Kin Fai Mak and Jie Shan Developed a New Imaging Technique that is Fast and Sensitive Enough to Observe Two-Dimensional Magnet Fluctuations

A Cornell team developed a new imaging technique that is fast and sensitive enough to observe these elusive critical fluctuations in two-dimensional magnets. This real-time imaging allows researchers to control the fluctuations and switch magnetism via a “passive” mechanism that could eventually lead to more energy-efficient magnetic storage devices.

The team’s paper, “Imaging and Control of Critical Fluctuations in Two-Dimensional Magnets,” published June 8 in Nature Materials.

The paper’s co-senior authors are Kin Fai Mak, associate professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Jie Shan, professor of applied and engineering physics in the College of Engineering. Both researchers are members of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, and they came to Cornell through the provost’s Nanoscale Science and Microsystems Engineering (NEXT Nano) initiative. Their shared lab specializes in the physics of atomically thin quantum materials.

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Dan Ralph's Group Contributes to Creation of Smallest Etch A Sketch

 Dan Ralp Co-authored “Local Photothermal Control of Phase Transitions for On-Demand Room-Temperature Rewritable Magnetic Patterning,” published April 21 in Advanced Materials.

Antonio Mei, a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Darrell Schlom, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Industrial Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, used molecular-beam epitaxy to stack atomically thin layers of iron rhodium in a strategic arrangement, so that its ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic phases both became stable at room temperature.

“The sample is equally happy having either strong magnetism or no net magnetism,” Schlom said, “like a teeter-totter that is equally stable resting on the ground with its left seat or its right seat.”

Magnetic patterns are traditionally formed on materials by first configuring a ferromagnetic material’s electrons all in one direction and then configuring selected regions in the opposite direction. But with iron rhodium, the material can begin as antiferromagnetic, and regions can be heated to be ferromagnetic, with those regions remaining strongly magnetic at room temperature.

“It’s like an Etch A Sketch,” said Schlom, referring to a toy in which images can be drawn onto a screen and erased, “where slight heating does the writing and if you wish, slight cooling does the erasing.”

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Séamus Davis Receives Award to Investigate More Comprehensive Understanding of the Fundamental Organizing Principles of Complex Quantum Matter in Solids

Physicist J.C. Séamus Davis, the James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a $1.6 million five-year grant renewal from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as part of the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems (EPiQS) Initiative.

Davis is one of 20 U.S. scientists receiving the grant to pursue innovative and risky research with a potential for significant advances in the concepts and methods used to investigate quantum materials.

The goal, according to the EPiQS Initiative, is for the collective impact of these investigators to produce a more comprehensive understanding of the fundamental organizing principles of complex quantum matter in solids.

“The first cohort of EPiQS Experimental Investigators made advances that changed the landscape of quantum materials,” said Dušan Pejaković, director of the EPiQS Initiative. “Emergent phenomena appear when a large number of constituents interact strongly – whether these constituents are electrons in materials or the brilliant scientists trying to crack the mysteries of materials.”

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Natasha Holmes finds that Shifting Structure in Labs Improves Student Engagment

“The students in the new labs are much more active,” Holmes said. “They are talking to each other, making decisions, negotiating. Compared to the traditional lab, where everyone’s really doing the same thing and just following instructions, we now have all of the students doing something completely different. They’re starting to be creative.”

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