Cornell University

Fascinating Figures with Margaret Frey: Can a Nanofiber Save Your Life? Can Cotton Candy?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Balch Hall, FIR Residence: 319 Wait Ave

By applying high voltage to polymer solutions, researchers in Prof. Margaret Frey’s laboratory have produced fibers over 100 times thinner than a human hair that just might be able to save your life.  Inspired by images from the Fukushima nuclear plant failure in Japan, we have created nanofibers that change from conducting to insulating when exposed to ionizing radiation.  A simple device made from these fibers could allow anyone, not just first responders, to know when radiation approached dangerous levels.  In collaboration with experts in pathogen detection, our nanofibers have been spun into microfluidic devices for rapid and low cost detection of disease.  These nanofibers have also been used in Entomology and Horticulture to provide controlled release of pesticides which could lead to eliminate repeated application, reduced overall pesticide use and stop run off into lakes and streams.  Early warning of radiation.  Easy detection of disease.  Less agricultural pollution. These fibers could save your life.

After spinning nanofibers with Frey and her graduate students, we spin fibers from a sugar solution...AKA cotton candy. Yum!


Event Type



Dean of Students





Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Paul Merrill


Margaret Frey

Speaker Affiliation

College of Human Ecology

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