Nanotech Gene Sequencing

Prof. Marija Drndic is researching a technique to sequence genes by reading DNA bases as they translocate through a silicon nitride nanopore.  As strands of DNA in a salt solution are driven through the pore by an applied electric field, the electric current passing through changes with the size of the base.  This method could be essential for swift sequencing of genes and personalized medicine.

MUSTANG - a Penn Radio Telescope Array

Penn,the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, have built a 3 millimeter array of 8x8 TES detectors for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).


Extrasolar Planet Searches

Prof. Cullen Blake studies stars of late-M and L spectral types, collectively known as Ultracool Dwarfs, searching for Earth-size planets which transit the star. Telluric lines are used as a wavelength reference for radial velocity measurements at deep red and near infrared wavelengths.


Bio-optics and bio-optical materials

Prof. Alison Sweeney and her colleagues believe that the reflective structures in giant clams help them grow algae. The clams use sub-wavelength structures formed from a protein called reflectin to optimize the photosynthesis of the algae living in the clam tissues.

Topological Insulators

Recent physics research shows how spin-orbit coupling can rearrange electronic bands in a solid to make a "topological insulator" - a new quantum phase of matter with conductive surfaces even though its bulk is insulating.  Penn physicists Professor Charlie Kane and Professor Gene Mele pioneered the theoretical discovery of such materials in 2005.