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The Lead

“Exotic” material is like a switch when super thin

April 18, 2014 3:05 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides. Researchers from Cornell Univ. and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch a particular transition metal oxide, a lanthanum nickelate (LaNiO3), from a metal to an insulator by making the material less than a nanometer thick.

A few “problem wells” source of greenhouse gas

April 15, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point...

Tiny tool measures heat at the nanoscale

February 27, 2014 11:10 am | News | Comments

How heat flows at the nanoscale can be very...

Nanoparticle networks' design enhanced by theory

February 26, 2014 5:22 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Cornell Univ. researchers have recently led what...

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Sun powers complex cancer test for remote regions

February 21, 2014 8:19 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

From the sun, a solution: Cornell Univ. and Weill Cornell Medical College researchers have remodeled an energy-intensive medical test, designed to detect a deadly skin cancer related to HIV infections, to create a quick diagnostic assay perfect for remote regions of the world. By harnessing the sun’s power and employing a smartphone application, medical technicians may now handily administer reliable assays for Kaposi’s sarcoma.

New theory may revolutionize superconductors

December 6, 2013 8:21 am | by Bill Steele, Cornell University | News | Comments

High-temperature superconductors exhibit a frustratingly varied catalog of odd behavior, such as electrons that arrange themselves into stripes or refuse to arrange themselves symmetrically around atoms. Now two physicists propose that such behaviors, and superconductivity itself, can all be traced to a single starting point, and they explain why there are so many variations.

“Shaken, not stirred”: Oscillator drives electron spin

December 4, 2013 8:28 am | by Ann Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

A collaboration of physicists and engineers has found a new way to control electron spins not with a magnetic field but with a mechanical oscillator. This demonstration of electron spin resonance that’s “shaken, not stirred” showed that an oscillator can drive the transitions of electron spins within defects commonly found in the crystal lattice of a diamond.

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Elegant geometric solution found for vexing 84-year-old math problem

November 18, 2013 1:37 pm | by Vasyl Kacapyr, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

A famous math problem that has vexed mathematicians for decades has met an elegant solution by researchers at Cornell Univ. Graduate student Yash Lodha, working with Justin Moore, professor of mathematics, has described a geometric solution for the von Neumann-Day problem, first described by mathematician John von Neumann in 1929.

Gold-plated nanobits find, destroy cancer cells

October 16, 2013 8:56 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University | News | Comments

Comparable to nanoscale Navy Seals, Cornell Univ. scientists have merged tiny gold and iron oxide particles to work as a team, then added antibody guides to steer the team through the bloodstream toward colorectal cancer cells. And in a nanosecond, the alloyed allies then kill the bad guys, cancer cells, with absorbed infrared heat.

New micro water sensor can aid growers

October 11, 2013 8:44 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University | News | Comments

Crop growers can benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings. But current sensors are large, may cost thousands of dollars and often must be read manually. Now, Cornell Univ. researchers have developed a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices.

Electric vest kneads away stress

September 5, 2013 8:13 am | by Olivia M. Hall | News | Comments

Anxiety? No problem. An electric vest can rub away your stress-filled day. Three Cornell Univ. students have developed a garment, embedded with piezoelectric cells and tiny motors, that gently massages the back and shoulders, mimicking a human touch.

Imperfect graphene renders “electrical highways”

July 11, 2013 6:37 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Combining experiment and theory, Cornell Univ. researchers have shown that when grown in stacked layers, graphene produces some specific defects that influence its conductivity. Previously it was thought that when perfectly stacked in layers, graphene would be defect-free. Instead, it ripples. The finding could influence efforts to make graphene act like a semiconductor.

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Physicists tease out twisted torques of DNA

June 28, 2013 12:56 pm | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

DNA sometimes twists itself into supercoils, an phenomenon caused by enzymes that travel along DNA’s helical groove and exert force and torque as they move. For the first time, these tiny torques have been measured using an instrument called an angular optical trap. Researchers at Cornell University have reported direct measurements of the torque generated by a motor protein as it traverses supercoiled DNA.

Genetic switches play big role in human evolution

June 12, 2013 8:45 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

A Cornell Univ. study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off. The study provides evidence for a 40-year-old hypothesis that regulation of genes must play an important role in evolution since there is little difference between humans and chimps in the proteins produced by genes.

Ultrasensitive polymer detects explosive devices

June 5, 2013 8:17 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

A chemical that’s often the key ingredient in improvised explosive devices can be quickly and safely detected in trace amounts by a new polymer created by a team of Cornell Univ. chemists. The polymer, which potentially could be used in low-cost, handheld explosive detectors and could supplement or replace bomb-sniffing dogs, was invented in the lab of William Dichtel, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology.

Researchers integrate origami and engineering

June 4, 2013 1:31 pm | News | Comments

The quintessential piece of origami might be a decorative paper crane, but in the hands of an interdisciplinary Univ. of Pennsylvania research team, it could lead to a drug-delivery device, an emergency shelter or even a space station. Collaborating with researchers at Cornell Univ., the Penn team will share in a $2 million, four-year grant from the NSF’s Div. of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation.

Crystals melt when they're cooled

May 23, 2013 8:57 am | News | Comments

Growing thin films out of nanoparticles in ordered, crystalline sheets would be a boon for materials researchers, but the physics is tricky because particles of that size don’t form crystals the way individual atoms do. Using bigger particles as models, physicists have predicted some unusual properties of nanoparticle crystal growth.

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Turn out the light: Switch determines cancer cell fate

May 3, 2013 8:10 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Like picking a career or a movie, cells have to make decisions—and cancer results from cells making wrong decisions. At the cellular level, wrong decisions can be made right. A team has discovered that colon cancer stem cells, a particularly malignant population of cancer cells, are able to switch between the decision to proliferate or to remain constant—and this “switch” is controlled by a little-studied molecule called microRNA.

Ultrathin transistors spread like butter on toast

April 18, 2013 8:37 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Like spreading a thin layer of butter on toast, Cornell University scientists have helped develop a novel process of spreading extremely thin organic transistors, and used synchrotron X-rays to watch how the films crystallize. The coating procedure, called solution shearing, is like the buttering of a slice of toast.

Microtransistor prototypes map the mind

April 12, 2013 9:42 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University | News | Comments

To make better mind maps, a group of French scientists—building on prototypes developed at the Cornell University NanoScale Science and Technology Facility—have produced the world’s first microscopic, organic transistors that can amplify and record signals from within the brain itself.

Scientists develop world's smallest drug deliverer

April 12, 2013 7:29 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University | News | Comments

Cornell University researchers have created a pore in “Cornell Dots”—brightly glowing nanoparticles nicknamed C-Dots—that can carry medicine. This new and improved nanoscale courier may help light up cancer cells and provide a new patient-friendly, viable option to battle cancer.

Study: Mental picture of others can be seen using fMRI

March 5, 2013 2:16 pm | News | Comments

According to a study by Cornell University neuroscientist Nathan Spreng and his colleagues, it is possible to tell who a person is thinking about by analyzing images of his or her brain. Our mental models of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques such as functionalized magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Physicists crack science of ice formation

February 27, 2013 10:21 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Salt lowers water's melting point, which is why it's useful for de-icing roads. And the higher the solute concentration, the slower ice forms. That's why solutes, or cryoprotectants, are added to proteins, cells, tissues, and even dead bodies to slow down ice formation during cryopreservation. Intrigued by this rather poorly understood process, Cornell University physicists have discovered that, for a variety of common cryoprotectants, the time for ice to form has a simple exponential variation with concentration.

Bioengineered ear looks, acts like the real thing

February 21, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

Physicians at Weill Cornell Medical College and biomedical engineers at Cornell University have succeeded in building a facsimile of a living human ear that looks and acts like a natural ear. Researchers believe their bioengineering method will finally succeed in the long quest by scientists and physicians to provide normal looking "new" ears to thousands of children born with a congenital ear deformity.

Three-photon microscopy improves biological imaging

January 22, 2013 7:58 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Scientists may be a step closer to cracking one of the world's most compelling mysteries: the impossible complexity of the brain and its billions of neurons. Cornell University researchers have demonstrated a new way of taking high-resolution, 3D images of the brain's inner workings through a three-fold improvement in the depth limits of multiphoton microscopy, a fluorescence-based imaging technique with Cornell roots.

Researchers confirm intrinsic superconductor behavior

January 16, 2013 8:19 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

When it comes to high-temperature superconductors, a class of materials called cuprates is king, and it is science's ongoing quest to determine their exact physical subtleties. Cornell University physicists and materials scientists have now verified that cuprates respond differently when adding electrons versus removing them, resolving a central issue about the compounds' most fundamental properties.

Synchronized nanoscale oscillators may spur new devices

December 17, 2012 8:38 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Synchronization phenomena are everywhere in the physical world—from circadian rhythms to side-by-side pendulum clocks coupled mechanically through vibrations in the wall. Cornell University researchers have now demonstrated synchronization at the nanoscale, using only light, not mechanics.

Multimode waveguides bring light around corners for photonic chips

December 13, 2012 4:32 pm | by Bill Steele, Cornell University | News | Comments

Light isn’t always cooperative, and one it’s least favorite things to go around corners. In photonics chips, direction changes are crucial for manipulating light for the purpose of carrying information. Researchers recently have devised a solution—an irregularly-shaped waveguide— that tricks light into thinking it’s going in a straight line.

Organic metamaterial flows like liquid

December 5, 2012 12:21 pm | News | Comments

A bit reminiscent of the Terminator T-1000, a new material created by Cornell University researchers is so soft that it can flow like a liquid and then, strangely, return to its original shape. Rather than liquid metal, it is a hydrogel, a mesh of organic molecules with many small empty spaces that can absorb water like a sponge. It qualifies as a "metamaterial" with properties not found in nature and may be the first organic metamaterial with mechanical metaproperties.

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