News & Events


New Ultrafast Camera Takes 70 Trillion Pictures Per Second


A new camera developed by Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, is capable of taking as many as 70 trillion frames per second. The camera technology, which Wang calls compressed ultrafast spectral photography (CUSP), combines a laser that emits extremely short pulses of laser light that last only one quadrillionth of a second (one femtosecond) with optics and a specialized type of camera. The technology could open up new avenues of research in fields that include fundamental physics, next-generation semiconductor miniaturization, and the life sciences. "We envision applications in a rich variety of extremely fast phenomena, such as ultrashort light propagation, wave propagation, nuclear fusion, photon transport in clouds and biological tissues, and fluorescent decay of biomolecules, among other things," Wang says. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Electronic Skin Fully Powered by Sweat Can Monitor Health


One of the ways we experience the world around us is through our skin. From sensing temperature and pressure to pleasure or pain, the many nerve endings in our skin tell us a great deal. Our skin can also tell the outside world a great deal about us as well. Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering has developed an electronic skin, or e-skin, that is applied directly on top of your real skin. "We want this system to be a platform," he says. "In addition to being a wearable biosensor, this can be a human–machine interface. The vital signs and molecular information collected using this platform could be used to design and optimize next-generation prosthetics." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE KNI Wei Gao

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


To Joseph Falson, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, 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 KNI Joseph Falson

Tiny Optical Cavity Could Make Quantum Networks Possible


Andrei Faraon, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, 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 KNI Andrei Faraon Andrei Ruskuc Jake Rochman John Bartholomew Yan Qi Huan

Microstructures Self-Assemble into New Materials


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 Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, "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 MedE MCE Julia Greer KNI Dennis Kochmann postdocs Carlos Portela

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


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: APhMS research highlights MedE KNI Wei Gao

Professor Wang Advances Photoacoustic Imaging Technology


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 KNI Lihong Wang

Professor Nadj-Perge Receives Sloan Research Fellowship


Stevan Nadj-Perge, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2020. Recipients represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders. [Past fellows]

Tags: APhMS honors KNI Stevan Nadj-Perge

Professor Vahala Elected to the National Academy of Engineering


Kerry J. Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Vahala was elected for “research and application of nonlinear optical microresonators to the miniaturization of precision time and frequency systems." Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education." [NAE release]

Tags: APhMS honors CMS National Academy of Engineering Kerry Vahala KNI

Professor Wang Develops World's Fastest Camera


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed the world's fastest camera, a device capable of taking 10 trillion pictures per second. It's so fast that it can even capture light traveling in slow motion. "What we've done is to adapt standard phase-contrast microscopy so that it provides very fast imaging, which allows us to image ultrafast phenomena in transparent materials," says Wang. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang