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Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms

05-19-11

Sandra M. Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues' experiments have confirmed which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of three-dimensional (3-D) pillar arrays in nanofilms (polymer films that are billionths of a meter thick). "My ultimate goal is to develop a suite of 3-D lithographic techniques based on remote, digital modulation of thermal, electrical, and magnetic surface forces," Troian says. Confirmation of the correct mechanism has allowed her to deduce the maximum resolution or minimum feature size ultimately possible with these patterning techniques. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Sandra Troian

Strong, Tough, and Now Cheap: New Way to Process Metallic Glass

05-12-11

William L. Johnson, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, and his team of researchers have developed a new technique that allows them to make metallic-glass parts utilizing the same inexpensive processes used to produce plastic parts. "We've taken the economics of plastic manufacturing and applied it to a metal with superior engineering properties,” Professor Johnson says. "We end up with inexpensive, high-performance, precision net-shape parts made in the same way plastic parts are made—but made of a metal that's 20 times stronger and stiffer than plastic.” [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights William Johnson Metallic Glass

Warm Water Causes Extra-cold Winters

03-30-11

Tapio Schneider, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and Dr. Yohai Kaspi have found a mechanism that helps explain why average winter temperatures in northern Europe are at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than similar latitudes on the northeastern coast of the United States. Using computer simulations of the atmosphere, they have found that the warm water off an eastern coast will heat the air above it and lead to the formation of atmospheric waves, drawing cold air from the northern polar region. The cold air forms a plume just to the west of the warm water. In the case of the Atlantic Ocean, this means the frigid air ends up right over the northeastern United States. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider

How an Idea Becomes a Business

03-29-11

Students in Ken Pickar's course Entrepreneurial Development (E 102) have the opportunity to identify a technology currently under study at Caltech and develop a business plan for it. The ideas used by the students this year included a solid-state memory technology developed by Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering. In this business plan the students proposed targeting Netflix and other high-volume streaming content providers. Another team pinpointed a new market for the vertical wind turbines of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering. A third team pitched a noninvasive method for breaking up arterial plaques using the concentrated-acoustic-pulse technology developed by Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Jehoshua Bruck John Dabiri Ken Pickar

Professor Blanquart Receives NSF CAREER Award

02-25-11

Guillaume Blanquart, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his proposal entitled "Towards understanding and modeling turbulent buoyant flows". The aim of the project is to understand the complex interactions between turbulent fluid mechanics and Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. These phenomena commonly occur in nature such as in supernova explosions, under water hot-vents, and fires. They are also encountered in many engineering applications such as in Inertial Confinement Fusion.

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Tags: honors research highlights MCE NSF CAREER Guillaume Blanquart NSF

Professor Daraio Named Sloan Research Fellow

02-16-11

Congratulations to Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, for receiving a 2011 Sloan Research Fellowship. The Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded yearly to 118 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.[Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS honors Chiara Daraio GALCIT Sloan Research Fellowship

Professors Rosakis and Hoffmann Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

02-08-11

Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Michael R. Hoffmann, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Rosakis was elected for discovery of intersonic rupture, contributions to understanding dynamic failure, and methods to determine stresses in thin-film structures. Professor Hoffmann was elected for oxidative treatment technologies for the removal of organic and inorganic contaminants from water.

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Tags: honors GALCIT MCE ESE Ares Rosakis National Academy of Engineering Michael Hoffmann

Weak Electrical Fields in the Brain Help Neurons Fire Together

02-03-11

Costas Anastassiou, a postdoctoral scholar working with Professor Christof Koch, and colleagues have found that coordinated behavior occurs in the brain whether or not neurons are actually connected via synapses.  To tease out the effects, Anastassiou and his colleagues, focused on strong but slowly oscillating fields, called local field potentials (LFP), that arise from neural circuits composed of just a few rat brain cells.  Measuring those fields and their effects required positioning a cluster of tiny electrodes within a volume equivalent to that of a single cell body—and at distances of less than 50 millionths of a meter from one another. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health Christof Koch Costas Anastassiou postdocs

Professor Tropp Receives the Monroe H. Martin Prize

02-01-11

Joel A. Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics,  is one of two winners of the eighth Monroe H. Martin Prize competition.  The prize is awarded to an outstanding paper in applied mathematics by a researcher who is younger than 36 years old.  Professor Tropp's winning paper is entitled "On the conditioning of random subdictionaries."

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Tags: honors research highlights CMS Joel Tropp

New Reactor Paves the Way for Efficiently Producing Fuel from Sunlight

01-20-11

Sossina Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, and colleagues have built a reactor at the heart of which is a cylindrical lining of ceria—a metal oxide. The reactor takes advantage of ceria's ability to "exhale" oxygen from its crystalline framework at very high temperatures and then "inhale" oxygen back in at lower temperatures - concentrating solar energy in order to convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels .  Ultimately, Haile says, the process could be adopted in large-scale energy plants, allowing solar-derived power to be reliably available during the day and night. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Sossina Haile fuel metal oxide reactor