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New Superconducting Film Resists a Magnet's Power to Thwart It

04-02-20

To Professor Joseph Falson, electrons are like exotic supercars and his lab wants to build the racetrack. In Falson's analogy, he likens that to driving the supercar down a cobblestone street that limits its speed. "Our job is not to make the supercar, it's just to make the highway," he says. The problem for those who seek to study superconductivity and eventually make practical use of it is that, so far, it has been realized only at ultracold temperatures no warmer than -70 degrees Celsius. "There is a very strong push to realize room-temperature superconductivity—it is one of the holy grails of science," Falson says, "because then you are going to employ these materials in motors or transmission lines, and the loss would be significantly less. It would revolutionize society." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Joseph Falson

Tiny Optical Cavity Could Make Quantum Networks Possible

03-31-20

Professor Andrei Faraon and team have shown that atoms in optical cavities—tiny boxes for light—could be foundational to the creation of a quantum internet. They identified a rare-earth ytterbium ion in the center of a beam. The ytterbium ions are able to store information in their spin for 30 milliseconds. In this time, light could transmit information to travel across the continental United States. "It's a rare-earth ion that absorbs and emits photons in exactly the way we'd need to create a quantum network," says Faraon. "This could form the backbone technology for the quantum internet." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Andrei Faraon Andrei Ruskuc Jake Rochman John Bartholomew Yan Qi Huan

Best Student Paper Award at IEEE CICC Conference

03-25-20

Professor Azita Emami's group in collaboration with Professor Wei Gao’s group has won the best student paper award at the 2020 IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference. The title of the paper is "A Fully-Integrated Biofuel-Cell-Based Energy Harvester with 86% Peak Efficiency and 0.25V Minimum Input Voltage Using Source-Adaptive MPPT." The IEEE CICC is a premier conference devoted to integrated circuit development. The conference program is a blend of oral presentations, exhibits, panels and forums. The conference sessions present original first published technical work and innovative circuit techniques that tackle practical problems. [Read the paper] [Past recipients]

Tags: EE honors MedE Kuan-Chang Chen Azita Emami Wei Gao Arian Hashemi You Yu Abhinav Agarwal William Kuo Minwo Wang Gudrun Hoskuldsdottir

Amphibious Robots Storm Millikan Pond for ME 72

03-18-20

Caltech's annual engineering design competition returned for its 35th installment. Five teams of Caltech undergraduates spent months building three amphibious remote-controlled robots per team that could drive into Millikan Pond and speed across the water to drop, shoot, or push balls into targets and outscore the opposing team. It was a high-stakes afternoon of capsizing, cheering, and triumph. [Caltech story]

Tags: MCE ME 72 Michael Mello

Blanquart Receives Research Excellence Award

03-06-20

Guillaume Blanquart, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the 2020 Research Excellence Award. The award is given by the Combustion Institute to registered Combustion Institute members who, in the opinion of the Executive Committee, have published excellent research papers that have had a major impact on the field of combustion science. [Recipients]

Tags: honors MCE Guillaume Blanquart

New Chip-Based Laser Gyroscope Measures Earth's Rotation

03-05-20

Optical gyroscopes are used in applications such as aircraft navigation systems, while MEMS gyroscopes are found in devices like smart phones. Professor Kerry J. Vahala has developed an optical gyroscope that combines some of the best characteristics of each into one device. "For more than 20 years, researchers have speculated about placing optical gyroscopes onto a chip very much like the highly successful MEMS gyroscopes. But until recently, there have been very few compelling experiments," Vahala says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST

Microstructures Self-Assemble into New Materials

03-03-20

A new process developed at Caltech makes it possible for the first time to manufacture large quantities of materials whose structure is designed at a nanometer scale—the size of DNA's double helix. Pioneered by Professor Julia R. Greer, "nanoarchitected materials" exhibit unusual, often surprising properties—for example, exceptionally lightweight ceramics that spring back to their original shape, like a sponge, after being compressed. Now, a team of engineers at Caltech and ETH Zurich have developed a material that is designed at the nanoscale but assembles itself—with no need for the precision laser assembly. "We couldn't 3-D print this much nanoarchitected material even in a month; instead we're able to grow it in a matter of hours," says Carlos M. Portela, Postdoctoral Scholar. "It is exciting to see our computationally designed optimal nanoscale architectures being realized experimentally in the lab," says Dennis M. Kochmann, Visiting Associate. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Julia Greer Dennis Kochmann Carlos Portela

Sweat Sensor Detects Stress Levels; May Find Use in Space Exploration

02-27-20

Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has produced a wireless sweat sensor that can accurately detect levels of cortisol, a natural compound that is commonly thought of as the body's stress hormone. This could allow for more widespread and easier monitoring of stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. "We aim to develop a wearable system that can collect multimodal data, including both vital sign and molecular biomarker information, to obtain the accurate classification for deep space stress and anxiety," Gao says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao

Team CoSTAR Takes First Place in Underground Robot Competition

02-27-20

A team including Caltech researchers and JPL earned top honors in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. Whether robots are exploring caves on other planets or disaster areas here on Earth, they need to be able to navigate a location and seek out objects of interest without access to GPS or human guidance. The Subterranean Challenge tests this kind of cutting-edge technology. "One of the two courses we had to run had multiple levels, so it was great that the Boston Dynamics robots were fantastic on stairs," says Joel Burdick, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering and JPL research scientist, and the leader of the Caltech campus section of the CoSTAR team. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Joel Burdick

Professor Wang Advances Photoacoustic Imaging Technology

02-25-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed variants of photoacoustic imaging that can show organs moving in real time, develop three-dimensional (3-D) images of internal body parts, and even differentiate cancerous cells from healthy cells. Photoacoustic imaging, a technique for examining living materials through the use of laser light and ultrasonic sound waves, has many potential applications in medicine because of its ability to show everything from organs to blood vessels to tumors. Wang has now further advanced photoacoustic imaging technology with what he calls Photoacoustic Topography Through an Ergodic Relay (PATER), which aims to simplify the equipment required for imaging of this type. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang