The CNF is a national user facility that provides state-of-the-art resources for research projects that encompass physical sciences, engineering and life sciences. Researchers use CNF's fabrication, synthesis, computation, characterization and integration resources to build structures, devices and systems spanning the range of atomic to millimeter length scales.
"Dan will bring years of CNF user and leadership experience to his new role as director," said Robert A. Buhrman, senior vice provost for research.
Ralph first started working in the CNF in 1987, when he was a graduate student investigating electrical transport and quantum defects in metallic nanostructures as small as 15 atoms in diameter.
After a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard during which he continued to use the CNF for sample fabrication, Ralph joined the Cornell physics faculty in 1996 and has been an active CNF user ever since. He has served on the CNF Executive Committee since 1998 and has chaired that committee since 2007.
Ralph has led the nanomagnetics thrust in Cornell's Center for Nanoscale Systems since 2001, has served as director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics since 2006, and was appointed Horace White Professor of Physics in 2008. He is a founding member of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.
His research focuses on the fabrication of nanometer-scale devices and the measurement of their electronic and magnetic properties. Recent highlights from his research group include measurements of the electrical properties of individual molecules and studies of magnetic devices controlled by torque from spin-polarized currents rather than by magnetic fields.
"My aim is to maintain CNF's position as the nation's premier nanotechnology facility by trying to anticipate the needs of its large user community, by keeping the equipment at the frontiers of available technology, and by encouraging new creative uses of the CNF's capabilities," Ralph said. "I have benefited at every stage of my career from the tools in the CNF and its fantastic staff, and it is an exciting opportunity for me to help shape the facility's future."
The CNF is supported by the National Science Foundation, the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research, Cornell and industry. It is a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network. The CNF is not only a premier user facility, but is also a national leader in providing educational outreach to the general public and educating future leaders in science and technology.