Cornell's Kavli Institute Announces New Directors with a New Mission

The Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science has announced the appointment of a new director and co-director -- appointments that will also bring a change in focus for the institute.

KIC Director Paul McEuen and Co-Director David A. Muller
KIC Director Paul McEuen (left) and Co-Director David A. Muller. Credit: Cornell University

Paul McEuen has been announced as the institute's new director, and David A. Muller as co-director. McEuen is a renowned expert on the science and technology of nanostructures, known particularly as a pioneer of single molecule devices, scanning probe microscopy of nanostructures and applications of nanoelectronics in chemistry and biology. Muller's own pioneering research has focused on areas such as the electronic structure of interfaces and three-dimensional imaging of nanostructures, and has demonstrated how electronic-structure changes on the atomic scale can control the macroscopic behavior of systems as diverse as turbine blades or transistors.

McEuen and Muller will lead the Institute as it focuses on the boundaries of nanoscale imaging and control. "The unique role of the Kavli Institute at Cornell will be to identify particular areas of nanoscale science research that are at a stage where there is an exceptional opportunity for groundbreaking progress," said Robert Buhrman, senior vice provost for research. Other core faculty members will be Dan Ralph (professor, physics) and Michal Lipson (associate professor, electrical and computer engineering), with two additional faculty members to be announced.

According to McEuen, the institute will address a major roadblock for transformative progress in nanoscience by focusing on "the tools that serve as 'eyes' and 'hands' for structures that are too small for us to see or touch." As a result, the institute will focus initially on next-generation electron-beam and optical microscopy; physical and electronic measurement and manipulation; and optoelectronic nanocharacterization. With facilities and funding opportunities open to all members of Cornell's nanoscale and nanofabrication community, the institute will fund small teams for developing cross-cutting approaches at the boundaries of various nanoscale sciences.

Two Kavli postdoctoral fellows will be funded per year. In addition, Kavli Instrumentation Projects will support the purchase and development of scientific tools for probing the nanoscale. The institute's mission will complement Cornell's existing centers that cut across such disciplines as nanofabrication and nanoscale materials.

The institute's leaders emphasize that "high-risk, high-payoff projects" are to be encouraged. "We are looking for that handful of 'It's so crazy it might actually work' ideas that would change how we see the nanoworld," Muller said.

Nanoscience

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