Researchers Assess Potential New Gene Editing Tool

Imagine having the ability to edit the mutations out of your own genes. Genetic diseases like Huntington’s, Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis would become a thing of the past; this ability would change the face of medicine. The potential applications of gene editing are far-reaching — and new research from Cornell might get us closer to making these applications a reality. A recent study may have uncovered another mechanism of a new gene editing technique. Prof. Ailong Ke, molecular biology and genetics, has been leading research on the structure of Type I Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) systems, which have the potential to be more specific than current gene editing techniques.

Make a Mark: Study Develops Strategies for Online Persuasion

Two of college students’ favorite pastimes — social media and arguing—were topics of a  recent Cornell study. The paper titled “Winning Arguments: Interaction Dynamics and Persuasion Strategies in Good-faith Online Discussions” was published on arXiv — an online e-print service owned by Cornell. By using the ChangeMyView debate platform on Reddit, the research team had unique access to a sample of people dedicated to reasoned debate and the exchange of ideas. Grad Vlad Niculae, one of the paper’s authors explained why CMV was a great platform to study. “CMV offers a combination of conditions that are very fortunate for our research purposes,”  Niculae said.

A model illustration depicts a connected quantum dot solid. The bright blue line represents an electron moving through the structure.

Connecting The Quantum Dots: Cornell Researchers Step Towards Better Electronics

When the first silicon chip was made, few envisioned that it would lead to smart phones. So pointed out Prof. Tobias Hanrath, material sciences and engineering, when discussing his and graduate student Kevin Whitham’s, work that could have applications ranging from improved electronic devices to helping solve the world’s energy crisis. What’s helping to potentially solve such big issues? The answer may not be big at all. Hanrath and Whitham’s work revolves around crystals called ‘quantum dots,’ which are so tiny that it would take about 200,000 dots to fit the width of a human hair.

A ‘Hole’ New World: Improving the Efficiency of Water Splitting

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms is a simple reaction that holds important implications towards energy and fuel needs. Photovoltaics — the process that converts solar energy into electricity — offers a feasible way to use light energy to split water. Prof. Peng Chen, chemistry, and his team aimed to optimize this process by studying the surface of nanorods of semiconductor titanium dioxide with respect to levels of photocatalytic reactivity. Their research indicates that the variations in the structure of the surface of the nanorods lead to variable water-splitting activity. Titanium dioxide nanorods can be used as photoanodes in a photochemical cell.