Sol M. Gruner

The John L. Wetherill Professor of Physics, Cornell University

Research interests: Structure & properties of soft matter; Biomaterials; X-ray instrumentation & methods

My research interests are in three areas:

(1) My students and I study the physical properties of biological and “soft” materials. Research in our group (on the first floor of Clark Hall) aimed at understanding the structure and properties of proteins, lyotropic liquid crystals, block co-polymers and mesoporous composites. Examples of experiments underway include the effects of pressure on proteins, polymeric mesomorphism, the synthesis and properties of nanocomposites, the interaction between membrane proteins and lipid bilayers, the phase behavior of lipid and surfactant liquid crystals, and the dynamics of soft matter.

(2) We develop novel instruments and techniques to provide additional handles for the exploration of the physical properties of specimens, such as high pressure x-ray methods. The group is especially well known for its work on solid-state x-ray detectors that enable challenging time-resolved x-ray experiments.

(3) Until 2013, I directed the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), one of the world's major x-ray facilities. I am still heavily involved with CHESS. Because CHESS is centrally located on (actually under!) the Cornell campus, it provides a unique environment for students wishing to become involved in cutting-edge synchrotron radiation science. Work at CHESS involves the development of new kind of x-ray synchrotron source, called an Energy Recovery Linac (ERL), that is based on superconducting RF technology. This presents thesis opportunities for students who are interested in both accelerator physics and the biological and condensed-matter sciences.

We are always looking for a few graduate students who really enjoy doing experimental science. It is not unusual for a given student to be involved in all the above activities.
Last modified: 17 Oct 2013