Working at the leading edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future.



Reflective Nanostructures


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have discovered how to use computer-chip manufacturing technologies to create the kind of reflective materials that make safety vests, running shoes, and road signs appear shiny in the dark. The new technology uses surfaces covered by a metamaterial consisting of millions of silicon pillars, each only a few hundred nanometers tall. By adjusting the size of the pillars and the spacing between them, Faraon can manipulate how the surface reflects, refracts, or transmits light. [Caltech story]

Grad Student Makes Ultra-Sensitive Measurement of Deformation


Xiaoyue Ni, a materials science graduate student working with Professor Julia Greer, has shown that metals undergo permanent deformation even prior to yielding—the threshold at which a material under strain becomes permanently deformed. "What Xiaoyue's data are showing is that from the first moment you start deforming it, the dislocations start being active," Greer says. Now that we know how to do this, we can probe a variety of different classes of materials. [Caltech story]

Capturing Clouds


Professor Tapio Schneider has helped bring artist Karen LaMonte's cloudy vision to life. "I thought it was a great idea," says Schneider, whose work focuses on reducing uncertainties in climate change projections—in part through modeling cloud formation to better understand clouds' impact on the environment. Collaborating with LaMonte, he reasoned, could help raise awareness of these issues. "Clouds are hugely important for the climate," says Schneider. "How much warmer it will get depends on what happens to cumulus clouds like those Karen was interested in. " [SoCaltech story]