News & Events


Kuan-Chang Chen Receives 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award


Electrical Engineering student Kuan-Chang Chen, working with Professor Azita Emami, is a recipient of the 2015 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. Kuan-Chang is a member of the Caltech Mixed-mode Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab (MICS) and is researching analog and mixed-signal circuits and systems. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

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New Thin, Flat Lenses Focus Light as Sharply as Curved Lenses


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created flat microlenses with performance on a par with conventional, curved lenses. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. The Caltech team’s new flat lenses focus as much as 82 percent of infrared light passing through them. By comparison, previous studies have found that metallic flat lenses have efficiencies of only around a few percent. [Caltech story]

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Tracking Photosynthesis from Space


Professor Paul Wennberg and colleagues have developed a new technique to analyze plant productivity using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. To perform photosynthesis, the chlorophyll in leaves absorbs sunlight and a small fraction of the absorbed light is reemitted as near-infrared light. This reemitted light makes the plants appear to glow—a property called solar induced fluorescence (SIF). "The measurements of SIF from OCO-2 greatly extend the science of this mission", says Professor Wennberg. "OCO-2 was designed to map carbon dioxide, and scientists plan to use these measurements to determine the underlying sources and sinks of this important gas. The new SIF measurements will allow us to diagnose the efficiency of the plants—a key component of the sinks of carbon dioxide." [Caltech story]

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Professor Minnich Receives Young Investigator Award


Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has won a 2015 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Professor Minnich’s award is for his proposal entitled, “Investigation of the Atomistic Mechanisms Governing Heat Conduction in Polymers.” [List of Recipients]

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Boeing Honors Caltech for Exceptional Performance


Caltech was the only education and research institution to receive a Supplier of the Year award from Boeing in a recent gala awards ceremony near the nation's capital. The awards recognized "exceptional performance and contributions to Boeing's overall success during 2014."  Caltech Vice Provost for research Morteza Gharib stated, “dating back to the 1930s, through the founding of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the growth of the aerospace industry in Southern California, Caltech's collaboration with Boeing has led to some key advancements in aerospace design and technology." [Caltech story] [ENGenious article]

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Space Solar Power Initiative


Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

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Professors Elowitz and Gharib Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


EAS Professors Michael Elowitz, and Morteza Gharib, have been elected to the 2015 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class of fellows. This year’s class of fellows also includes Caltech Board of Trustee members Maria D. Hummer-Tuttle, and James F. Rothenberg. They have joined an assembly that was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholars to provide practical solutions to pressing issues. [Caltech story]

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Professor Tropp Receives Pioneer Award


Joel A. Tropp, Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, will receive the Compressive Sampling Pioneer Award at this year’s International Society for Optics and Photonics - Defense Security and Sensing conference (SPIE. DSS). He is one of the first researchers to contribute to the field of sparse approximation, which is also known as compressive sampling. At the conference he will give a presentation on sampling theorems for structured signals, based on his paper entitled “Living on the Edge.”

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Professor Faber Receives the John Jeppson Award


Katherine Faber, Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, has received one of the most prestigious awards given by the American Ceramic Society which is the John Jeppson Award. She is being honored “for her important engineering contribution to the understanding of mechanical behavior, especially toughening of ceramics.” More specifically for her study of the fracture of brittle materials and the mechanisms by which such materials can be toughened and strengthened through composite strategies and residual stresses.

The John Jeppson Award recognizes distinguished scientific, technical, or engineering achievements in ceramics. Past recipients include Larry L. Hench, Arthur H. Heuer, Anthony G. Evans, and the only other female member of the distinguished group Della M. Roy. [List of past recipients]

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An Earthquake Warning System in Our Pockets?


Thomas H. Heaton, Professor of Engineering Seismology, and colleagues’ recent study suggests that all of our phones and other personal electronic devices could function as a distributed network, detecting any ground movements caused by a large earthquake, and, ultimately, giving people crucial seconds to prepare for a temblor. "Thirty years ago it took months to assemble a crude picture of the deformations from an earthquake. This new technology promises to provide a near-instantaneous picture with much greater resolution," says Professor Heaton. [Caltech story]

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Division of Engineering and Applied Science