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Microseismicity and Large Earthquakes

06-10-16

Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, and Caltech alumnus Dr. Junle Jiang, have linked the patterns of microseismicity to the depth extension of large earthquakes, both through modeling and observationally. They argue that fault segments which do not have concentrated microseismicity at the bottom of the seismogenic zone must have had deeper, larger earthquakes than currently believed. A number of segments on the San Andreas fault appear to fall into that category. The potential for such deeper earthquakes in the future would imply higher seismic hazard. [Science article] [KPCC coverage] [New Yorker Article]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta alumni Junle Jiang

Smaller Chips May Depend on Vacuum Tube Technology

06-05-16

A recent New York Times article featured Caltech alumnus, Gordon Moore (PhD ’54), and the research of Professor Axel Scherer on ultrasmall vacuum tube as a candidate to replace the transistor. [Read the article]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights CMS Gordon Moore Axel Scherer

DNA Origami: Folded DNA as a Building Material for Molecular Devices

05-20-16

Paul Rothemund, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems, explains how his group and groups around the world are using DNA origami in applications ranging from potential cancer treatments to devices for computing. [Caltech interview]

Tags: research highlights CMS Paul Rothemund

Caltech’s Smart Charging Network for Electrical Vehicles

04-24-16

Charging electric vehicles (EVs) can require a substantial amount of electricity (most EVs charge at 7 kilowatts, the equivalent of simultaneously running 70 desktop computers). Steven Low, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, has developed Caltech's adaptive charging network, which uses a smart algorithm to coordinate the charging schedule with the Institute's existing electrical infrastructure. This program helps minimize energy usage and about 30 percent of the electricity at each charging station is from carbon-free renewable sources. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE energy research highlights CMS Steven Low

Aliso Canyon, Methane, and Global Climate

04-18-16

The Aliso Canyon underground storage facility for natural gas in the San Fernando Valley—the fourth largest of its kind in the United States—had one of its wells blow out on October 23, 2015, leading to a large release of methane. In a recent conversation, Professor Paul Wennberg discusses enormous methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and their troubling implications for global climate. “If we could really knock the methane emissions back to what they were before people started emitting methane, it would be a large change. It would be a half a watt per meter squared. The total global warming would drop by around 25 percent,” Professor Wennberg explains. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights ESE Paul Wennberg

Using Applied Physics to Explain How Accretion Disks Drive Astrophysical Jets

04-01-16

Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics, has developed a new model explaining why astrophysical jets always originate from stars having accretion disks, the progenitors of planets. The relationship between jets and accretion disks has eluded scientists for many years and what happens to the angular momentum of accreting particles has also long been a mystery. Professor Bellan’s model explains how the disks power the jets as well as how angular momentum is removed from accreting material in the disks. The model involves peculiar inward spiraling trajectories of clumps of charged and neutral particles, and shows that the disk and jets together form an electric circuit where the disk is the battery and the jet is the load. [Read the Paper]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Paul Bellan

Graduate Student Wins Best Paper Prize at Flagship Signal Processing Conference

03-23-16

Electrical Engineering graduate student Chun-Lin Liu, working with Professor Vaidyanathan, has received the best paper prize for his paper entitle, “Super-nested arrays: sparse arrays with less mutual coupling than nested arrays". The prize was presented to him at the flagship signal processing conference, the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP 2016), attended by over 2000 people. [Read the paper]

Tags: EE honors research highlights P. P. Vaidyanathan Digital Signal Processing Chun-Lin Liu

Seeking a Balanced Equation

03-21-16

Applied Physics graduate student Peter Hung, working with Professor Roukes, is one of the Caltech students featured in a recent E&S article. “In our lab, we shoot molecules of different sizes and shapes at really small mechanical resonators—tiny bridges almost 1,000 times smaller than the width of your hair—and use the change in the resonant frequency (how fast these bridges are vibrating) to reconstruct the shape and mass of the molecules that we’re shooting,” Hung explains. [E&S article]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Michael Roukes Peter Hung

Tiny Diatoms Boast Enormous Strength

02-08-16

Researchers in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, have recently found that diatom shells have the highest specific strength—the strength at which a structure breaks with respect to its density—of any known biological material, including bone, antlers, and teeth. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer

Novel Calibration Tool Will Help Astronomers

01-27-16

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a novel calibration tool, called a laser frequency comb, which could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. The comb produces easily resolvable lines, without any need for filtering and is built from off-the-shelf components developed by the telecommunications industry. "We have demonstrated an alternative approach that is simple, reliable, and relatively inexpensive," says Professor Vahala. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala