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Similar efforts to turn electrons into non-abelian anyons have also stalled. Bob Willett of Nokia Bell Labs has probably come the closest in his attempts to corral electrons in gallium arsenide, where promising but subtle signs of braiding exist. The data is messy, however, and the ultracold temperature, ultrapure materials, and ultrastrong magnetic fields make the experiment tough to reproduce. “There has been a long history of not observing anything,” said Eun-Ah Kim of Cornell University. Wrangling electrons, however, is not the only way to make non-abelian quasiparticles. “I had given up on all of this,” said Kim, who spent years coming up with ways to detect anyons as a graduate student and now collaborates with Google. “Then came the quantum simulators.”
Debanjan Chowdhury uses a variety of theoretical techniques to study and predict the quantum properties of trillions of interacting electrons in interesting materials, ranging from high-temperature superconductors to exotic magnets. His contributions have been recognized by a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation and by a Sloan research fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation.
Wang’s lab focuses on the motion, dynamics and mechanics of DNA; how DNA motor proteins collide and navigate through roadblocks; and DNA topology during transcription and replication. These highly complex problems require the development of real-time techniques to decipher the actions of multiple players, while also simultaneously allowing the ability to mechanically control, alter and measure DNA topology. Wang’s lab has pioneered several technologies that mimic DNA-based biological processes, including “DNA unzipping” and optical trapping. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1998; among her honors is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow Award (1999-2001) and election to the American Physical Society in 2009.
A Cornell-led collaboration harnessed chemical reactions to make microscale origami machines self-fold – freeing them from the liquids in which they usually function, so they can operate in dry environments and at room temperature.
Using state-of-the-art magnetic imaging, a Cornell-led collaboration has for the first time characterized a key property of the superconducting state of a class of atomically thin materials that are too difficult to measure due to their minuscule size.
Some classical computers have error correction built into their memories based on bits; quantum computers, to be workable in the future, will need error correction mechanisms, too, based on the vastly more sensitive qubits. Cornell Professor Eun-Ah Kim and former Bethe/KIC/Wikins postdoctoral fellow Yuri Lensky (now at Google) have recently taken a step toward fault-tolerant quantum computing: they constructed a simple model containing exotic particles called non-Abelian anyons, compact and practical enough to run on modern quantum hardware. Realizing these particles, which can only exist in two dimensions, is a move towards implementing it in the real world.
A model system created by stacking a pair of monolayer semiconductors is giving physicists a simpler way to study confounding quantum behavior, from heavy fermions to exotic quantum phase transitions. The group’s paper, “Gate-Tunable Heavy Fermions in a Moiré Kondo Lattice,” published March 15 in Nature. The lead author is postdoctoral fellow Wenjin Zhao in the Kavli Institute at Cornell. The project was led by Kin Fai Mak, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Jie Shan, professor of applied and engineering physics in Cornell Engineering and in A&S, the paper’s co-senior authors. Both researchers are members of the Kavli Institute; they came to Cornell through the provost’s Nanoscale Science and Microsystems Engineering (NEXT Nano) initiative.
As a freshman, Dan Ralph was inspired by an engaging physics teacher who Ralph considered a Yoda-like character who was very good at posing problems that helped them understand what they were learning. Dan Ralph as co-director of Kavli Institute at Cornell (KIC) states "We're constantly looking for new puzzles, new problems, and new areas of research that people haven't considered before. Some involve fundamental science questions while others are more about engineering, but they are all areas where research can make a difference."
Imagine a patch of material an inch across – wide enough to handle – but only one atomic layer thick. “It’s a simple concept, really,” said Paul Malinowski, a Klarman Fellow in physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. “You pull on it.”
A physics theory that’s proven useful to predict the crowd behavior of molecules and fruit flies also seems to work in a very different context – a basketball court. A model based on density functional theory can suggest the best positioning for each player on the basketball court in a given scenario if they want to raise their probability of either scoring or defending successfully. Boris Barron, a doctoral student in physics working with Tomás Arias, professor in the Department of Physics, in the College of Arts and Sciences, presented his work on March 9 at the American Physical Society conference in Las Vegas.