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Cumings, John

John Cumings
Associate Professor
Keystone Professor
1246 Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building

News About This Professor


Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 2002

Research Interests 

Nanoelectronics and nanodevices, electron microscopy.

Current Research Projects 

The current trend of miniaturization in virtually every industry is illuminating new questions about the behavior of matter on small length scales. When devices and systems of interest contain only a few thousand atoms, neither the fundamental theories of quantum mechanics nor theories of the continuum limit are practical for predicting dynamic behavior. This is the realm of nanoscience and nanotechnology, and it is here that basic notions of the physics of matter-- friction and wear, how electrons flow, and how heat is generated and dissipated, come into question. Ultimately, the guiding physical principles will come from direct observation of operational systems at the nanoscale.

The primary goal of my research is to advance the current understanding of the dynamic properties of nanoscale systems. The future of many fields of the physical and biological sciences lies in nanotechnology, and as the size of functional devices progresses ever smaller, there will inevitably be problems that can only be addressed by direct real-time observations. A number of research groups are focusing on using scanned probe techniques, such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic-force microscopy (AFM), to explore dynamic properties at the nanoscale, but these slow imaging techniques are poor at capturing these effects. My research goes beyond this approach by using real-time imaging techniques, such as transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to explore fundamental physics on small length scales.

To learn more about electron microscopy, visit the University of Maryland's NISP lab website.

Honors and Awards 

  • CRC Press Freshman Chemistry Award (1994) 
  • Boston University, College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Physics (1997) 
  • Summa Cum Laude (1997) 
  • Phi Beta Kappa (1997) 
  • IBM Research Fellowship (2001-2002)
  • Minta Martin Award (2006)
  • The MSGS and MatES Award for Outstanding Advising in Materials Science and Engineering (2007)
  • Sigma Xi (2008)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2011)

Selected Publications 

For a complete list of over 50 publications, please visit Professor Cumins' web site

Kamal H. Baloch, Norvik Voskanian, Merijntje Bronsgeest, and John Cumings, Remote Joule heating by a carbon nanotube, Nature Nanotechnology, 7(5), p. 316 (2012). (PDF)

Stephen A. Daunheimer, Olga Petrova, Oleg Tchernyshyov, John Cumings, Reducing Disorder in Artificial Kagome Ice, Physical Review Letters, 107(16), 167201 (2011). (PDF)

Kamal H. Baloch, Norvik Voskanian, and John Cumings, Controlling the thermal contact resistance of a carbon nanotube heat spreader, Applied Physics Letters, 97(6), 063105 (2010). (PDF)

Todd Brintlinger, Yi Qi, Kamal H. Baloch, D. Goldhaber-Gordon, and John Cumings, Electron Thermal Microscopy, Nano Letters, 8(2), 582 (2008). (PDF)

Related News 

Cumings and Drisko Published in Nature Communications
Small defects can make whole materials frustrated. January 13, 2017

Cumings Named Interim Director of Maryland NanoCenter
Appointment effective July 1. July 5, 2015

Nilsson Wins Wylie Fellowship
UMD award supports grad student's work in advanced microscopy. April 20, 2015

Beyond “Six Nines”: Ultra-enriched Silicon for Quantum Computing
MSE student part of NIST team pursuing near-perfect crystals. August 26, 2014

Workshop on Defects in Wide Band Gap Semiconductors Sept. 23
Abstracts due July 28 July 10, 2014

Department of Energy renews NEES EFRC for four years
The center develops highly ordered nanostructures that offer a unique way of looking at the science of energy storage. June 20, 2014

Room To Move: Spacing Graphite Layers Makes a Better Battery Anode
New process designed to make Na-ion batteries an effective alternative to Li-ion. June 4, 2014

NSF Award Sponsors Student’s Microscopy Research in Sweden
MSE grad student Hanna Nilsson hopes to pinpoint thermal conductivity of graphene. May 27, 2014

Save the Date: NanoDay, June 11 -- Poster Session, Plenaries, EM Workshops and More
Registration and poster abstract submission will open soon March 25, 2014

Over Half of Tenured MSE Professors Are UMD "Research Leaders"
Division of Research honors faculty for funded research. December 3, 2013

What's Materials Science? High School Students Spend the Day with MSE to Find Out!

Precollege students get hands-on experience at LEAD Academy.   August 13, 2013

Clark School Professor's Research Featured by Department of Energy
John Cumings' research analyzing heating in electronic devices is featured by DOE as "Story of Discovery and Innovation." May 1, 2013

Nano "Beads on a String" Could Advance Battery Technology
Pulsing with lithium, tiny silicon beads on a nanotube hold promise for better batteries. February 27, 2013

Flexible Nanopaper Featured in Chemical & Engineering News
ACS Newsmagazine reports innovation in nanoscale technology February 6, 2013

Nilsson Named Future Faculty Fellow
Graduate student joins highly selective cohort. January 28, 2013

Cornett, Karki Selected for Sustainable Energy Workshop in Ethiopia
Grad students to attend Joint U.S.-Africa Materials Initiative Materials Research School. November 8, 2012

Karki Wins Best Poster, Best Oral Presentation Awards
Grad student awarded top honors at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage meeting. November 6, 2012

MSE Faculty Are UMD "Research Leaders"
Half of department's full-time faculty honored by Division of Research. October 9, 2012

Fisher, Lidie Win Electrochemical Society Student Chapter Poster Contest
Grad students receive complimentary conference registration. September 11, 2012

Cumings Promoted
Faculty member becomes Associate Professor, receives tenure, effective July 1. June 4, 2012

Daunheimer Wins MSE Graduate Research Award
Student will represent department in college-level competition. April 30, 2012

World's Smallest Battery: How Small is Too Small?
Electrolyte determines just how thin a nanoscale lithium battery can be. April 27, 2012

Epstein Named One of UMD's Undergraduate Researchers of the Year
MSE senior recognized for his study of high-powered silicon anodes for lithium-ion batteries. April 26, 2012

2011-2012 MSE Undergraduate Awards
Exceptional students recognized by the Department, Clark School, and professional societies. April 20, 2012

Three MSE Students Win NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
Epstein, Godo and Nilsson receive highly competitive awards. April 13, 2012

The Weird World of "Remote Heating"
Clark School researchers discover nanoscale phenomenon, potential computer speed advantages. April 9, 2012

Karki Selected for Future Faculty Program
Graduate student joins highly selective cohort. February 16, 2012

Rabin Wins Prestigious NSF CAREER Award for Spectroscopy Research
Nanoparticles and light twist left and right to identify molecular structures. February 9, 2012

Cumings Wins Clark School's Junior Faculty Outstanding Research Award
Professor recognized for nanoscale and electron microscopy research. October 10, 2011

Epstein Wins L-3 Scholarship
Merit-based award supports Clark School students, Great Expectations campaign. February 21, 2011

Cumings, Seog Win NSF CAREER Awards for Nanotechnology Research
Research includes studies of frustrated nanomagnets, assembly of biological nanofibers. January 19, 2011

Cumings Tapped for Nature Physics News and Views Column
Professor gives expert overview of artificial spin ice. December 22, 2010

NIST Awards NanoCenter $15 Million to Support Postdoc Nanotechnology Research
Program will create up to 100 one and two-year appointments. November 11, 2010

Cumings Receives DOE Grant to Study Thermal Resistance of Carbon Nanotubes
New modes of energy transfer could enable next-generation heatsink, heat exchange materials. August 18, 2010

Live News Broadcast Highlights Hovercraft Competition, Keystone Program
WTTG Fox 5 broadcasts live from ENES100 hovercraft competition at the Kim Building. May 13, 2010

Youn, Cumings Receive NRC Grant
Young faculty development award will support research on nuclear system reliability. November 3, 2009

Cumings Leads EFRC Nanowire Team
Research designed to increase effectiveness of lithium ion batteries. August 4, 2009

NanoCenter Improves Energy Storage Options
Maryland NanoCenter researchers create new device to store electrical energy. March 16, 2009

Materials and Interface Nanotechnology Laboratory Opens
Research will include work on nanoparticles, nanowires. November 20, 2008

Now That's Cool
Cumings group out to thaw the mysteries of ice. August 4, 2008

Cumings Contributes to Story, Chat on Crane Collapse
Professor consulted for Washington Post story. June 16, 2008

Undergraduate Honors and Awards Recipients, 2007-2008
MSE recognizes Tapp, Senagore and Heikes. April 14, 2008

Cumings Group Invents New Microscopy Technique
Electron thermal microscopy allows real-time tests of nanoscale devices in situ. March 7, 2008

Cumings to Speak at APS "March Meeting"
Will present breakthrough work on artificial spin ice. March 3, 2008

Mote Visits NISPLab
UMD President sees equipment, research in action. February 5, 2008

NISPLab Welcomes UMD VP for Research
Berstein, Gertz visit premiere microscopy facility. December 19, 2007

Graduate Society Receives MRS Charter
Group recognized at Fall Meeting. December 6, 2007

MSE Faculty Continues to Produce "Research Leaders"
Professors honored for their efforts to bring sponsored research funds to campus. October 29, 2007

Cumings to Participate in Exchange Program
U.S./Japan program focuses on nanotechnology. December 21, 2006

Cumings Invited to Speak at American Physical Society
MSE professor to present work on tunable magnetic semiconductors November 2, 2006

NSF Grant Enhances NISP Lab's Capabilities
$500k grant will benefit composition analysis and biological tissue characterization. August 29, 2006

New Microscopes for NISP, Keck Labs
TEM and STM/microwave equipment will enhance research abilities. July 10, 2006

Cumings’ Research on Paramagnetic Semiconductors Published in Physical Review Letters
New discovery of tunable, nonferromagnetic semiconductor could pave the way for spintronics. June 13, 2006