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|KIC Director Paul McEuen (left) and Co-Director David A. Muller. Credit: Cornell University|
In nanoscience, researchersare truly limited by the technology of their field, needing increasingly more advanced tools for studying, analyzing and manipulating objects and systems at the scale of individual molecules and atoms.
Directors of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science, Paul McEuen and David A. Muller, talk about their mission to push the technology of observation, measurement and control to ever-smaller dimensions.
To expand the boundaries of nanoscience, the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science is now devoted to the development and utilization of next-generation tools for exploring the nanoscale world. The new director of the institute is Cornell University Physics Professor Paul McEuen, widely known for his work with carbon-based systems such as graphene and nanotubes. Serving as co-director is Associate Professor of Applied and Engineering Physics David A. Muller, whose pioneering work includes developing electron energy loss spectroscopy as a tool for predicting materials properties.
Recently, McEuen and Muller discussed the institute's new mission and the need for advanced technology in nanoscience. In particularly, they described how they had come upon limits of observation and control in their own work, and how they plan to launch "high-risk, high-payoff" projects with the potential of changing the way scientists work worldwide. In McEuen's words, "we're looking for projects where you could say, ‘If I succeed, suddenly everybody's going to want one of these.'"
As new co-directors of the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience, you're assuming leadership of an institute that is now six years old. How much are you changing its mission and structure, and how much of the new mission is a continuation of what KIC has been doing?
Paul McEuen (PM): In the first years of the Kavli Institute, the mission was to engage the nanoscale community, both at Cornell and outside, in a discussion about what were the most important issues facing nanoscale science. A series of conferences and workshops addressed this issue in a variety of contexts, all the way from the first Kavli Futures Symposium in Greenland to a series of conferences here on nanoscale imaging that David was very involved in. As a result of those conversations, one thing that emerged very clearly was that it's our tools that are still an enormous limiting factor in what we can do at the nanoscale world. We don't have eyes and hands at the nanoscale to see and control things the way we're used to at the milli-, micro- or macro-scale. As we thought about where we could have the most impact, we thought that trying to push the cutting edge in development of new sets of measurement approaches and tools would be a great way to go. If you make a new tool, you can have an enormous impact in a variety of different areas.
David A. Muller (DM): That about sums it up. I'd say that, in terms of what our strengths were, that this was the most high-impact, most efficient way we could think of going forward. So that's why we're re-focused.
Read the entire discussion here:
About Kavli Foundation
The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.
The Foundation's mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.
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