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Engineers Create Stable Plasma Ring in Open Air

11-13-17

For the first time, Professor Morteza Gharib and colleagues have created a stable ring of plasma in open air using just a stream of water and a crystal plate. The team fired the water jet at surfaces of different textures and found that the smoother the surface, the clearer the structure of the plasma ring. The ring is stable, and as long as the water continues to flow, the ring maintains its shape and size. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

Professor Desbrun Interviews Pixar President and Pixar Animation Senior Scientist

10-27-17

Listen to Professor Mathieu Desbrun’s conversation about the history and future of computer graphics research with Ed Catmull (co-founder, Pixar Animation Studios; president, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios) and Tony DeRose (senior scientist, Pixar Animation Studios). [SIGGRAPH Spotlight: Episode 6]

Tags: research highlights CMS Mathieu Desbrun

Laser-Imaging Technology Brought into Focus

10-26-17

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have improved a technique for taking three-dimensional (3-D) microscopic images of tissue, allowing them to see inside living creatures with greater precision than before. "This gives us the ability to look through opaque materials and see what's inside," Professor Wang says. "It's like an extension of the human eye, like Superman's X-ray vision."  [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang

Teaching Machines How to Learn

10-24-17

Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, develops efficient techniques to speed up optimization algorithms that underpin machine-learning systems. Speaking about the connections between industry and academia she explains,“bridging the gap between industry and academia is really important. It is a big part of what brought me to Caltech. The sooner we can take theory and deploy it practically, the faster innovation moves and the more impact it can have.” [Interview with Professor Anandkumar]

Tags: research highlights CMS Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar

Studying Entropy in Metallic Glasses

10-10-17

Brent Fultz, Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, and colleagues have pinpointed that arrangement of atoms is the main source of an increase in entropy during the glass transition. One persistent mystery about metallic glasses occurs at the so-called "glass transition." A cold metallic glass is hard and brittle, but when it is heated past a certain point—the glass transition—it becomes soft. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Brent Fultz MatSci

The Science of Sweat

09-29-17

Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, is interested in the future of personalized and precision medicine, and is engineering the next generation of wearable health monitors and nanomachines that could enable rapid and hyper-localized drug delivery and surgery. The sweatband health tracker he is developing is capable of studying health at a molecular level. By analyzing an individual’s sweat, the device can monitor dehydration levels as well as blood glucose levels in real time. [Caltech interview]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao

New Microchip Technology Could Be Used to Track Smart Pills

09-12-17

Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; and EAS Division Deputy Chair, along with her colleagues including Professor Mikhail Shapiro have developed microscale devices that relay their location in the body. "We wanted to make this chip very small with low power consumption, and that comes with a lot of engineering challenges," says Professor Emami. "We had to carefully balance the size of the device with how much power it consumes and how well its location can be pinpointed." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Azita Emami Mikhail Shapiro

First On-chip Nanoscale Optical Quantum Memory Developed

09-11-17

Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a computer chip with nanoscale optical quantum memory. "Such a device is an essential component for the future development of optical quantum networks that could be used to transmit quantum information," says Professor Faraon (BS '04). [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Andrei Faraon APh

Training a Machine to Watch Soccer

08-25-17

Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can automatically recognize formations of teams—how they arrange themselves on the field—when analyzing player tracking data. The algorithm can also imitate players' behavior. "We're training the algorithm to understand soccer at the same level that a fan would. It's not just mindlessly watching faceless players move across a field; it's watching strikers and right midfielders and forwards arrange themselves in specific formations," says Professor Yue. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Yisong Yue

How Friction Evolves During an Earthquake

08-15-17

Professor Ares Rosakis, and colleagues including Professor Nadia Lapusta and Research Scientist Vito Rubino, are studying the way friction changes along a fault during a seismic event by simulating quakes in a lab. "Our unique facility … allows us for the first time to study friction point-wise and without having to assume that sliding occurs uniformly, as is done in classical friction studies," Rosakis explains. Professor Lapusta adds, “some numerical models of earthquake rupture … have used friction laws with slip-velocity dependence… It is gratifying to see those formulations validated by the spontaneous mini-earthquake ruptures in our study. " [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino