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Sandra Troian and Mathias Dietzel Solve Decade-Long Mystery of Nanopillar Formations

10-23-09

Sandra Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Mathias Dietzel have uncovered the physical mechanism by which arrays of nanoscale pillars can be grown on polymer films with very high precision, in potentially limitless patterns. "This is an example of how basic understanding of the principles of physics and mechanics can lead to unexpected discoveries which may have far-reaching, practical implications," said Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at Caltech. "This is the real strength of the EAS division." [Caltech Press Release] [video] [Download real player]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Sandra Troian

Professor Chandy Has a New Blog Discussing Sense and Respond Systems

09-04-09

Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Computer Science, has a new blog discussing sense and respond systems. Sense and respond systems are employed in diverse applications such as helping disabled people live independently in their own homes, interdicting radiological weapons, and managing a stock portfolio. [View Blog]

Tags: research highlights health CMS Kanianthra Mani Chandy

Kerry Vahala and Colleagues Create First-ever Phonon Laser

09-01-09

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics; Director, The Lee Center for Advanced Networking along with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have created the first-ever phonon laser--a device that amplifies phonons in much the way that optical lasers amplify photons of light. [View Article]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Kerry Vahala

Erik Winfree Featured in Discover

08-18-09

The molecular computational research of Erik Winfree, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, focuses on understanding how chemical systems can perform information processing and how to program a set of molecules to carry out instructions. This exciting research was recently featured in Discover. [Discover Interview]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Erik Winfree

Paul Rothemund and Colleagues Use Self-Assembled DNA Scaffolding to Build Tiny Circuit Boards

08-18-09

Dr. Paul Rothemund, Senior Research Associate in Bioengineering, Computer Science, and Computation and Neural Systems, and colleagues have developed a new technique to orient and position self-assembled DNA shapes and patterns--or "DNA origami"--on surfaces that are compatible with today's semiconductor manufacturing equipment. They "have removed a key barrier to the improvement and advancement of computer chips. They accomplished this through the revolutionary approach of combining the building blocks for life with the building blocks for computing," said Professor Ares Rosakis, Chair of Division of Engineering and Applied Science and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health CMS Paul Rothemund

Tapio Schneider and Colleagues Discover Storms in the Tropics of Titan

08-12-09

Tapio Schneider, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and his colleagues have discover storms on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, which is generally "a very bland place, weatherwise," says Mike Brown, Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and Professor of Planetary Astronomy. "The first cloud was seen near the tropics and was caused by a still-mysterious process, but it behaved almost like an explosion in the atmosphere, setting off waves that traveled around the planet, triggering their own clouds. Within days a huge cloud system had covered the south pole, and sporadic clouds were seen all the way up to the equator." Schneider, an expert on atmospheric circulations, was instrumental in helping to sort out the complicated chain of events that followed the initial outburst of cloud activity. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider

Paul Wennberg and John Seinfeld Show How Organic Carbon Compounds Emitted by Trees Affect Air Quality

08-06-09

Paul Wennberg, the R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering and director of the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science, and John Seinfeld, the Louis E. Nohl Professor and professor of chemical engineering, have shown that biogenic emissions—organic carbon compounds given off by plants and trees— affect air quality. Wennberg states that, "if you mix emissions from the city with emissions from plants, they interact to alter the chemistry of the atmosphere." Seinfeld adds, "particles in the atmosphere have been shown to impact human health, as they are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs of people. Also, aerosols impact Earth's climate through the scattering and absorption of solar radiation and through serving as the nuclei on which clouds form. So it is important to know where particles come from." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights health ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld

John Dabiri and Kakani Katija Link Tiny Sea Creatures to Large-scale Ocean Mixing

07-29-09

John Dabiri, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and graduate student Kakani Katija have discovered a new mechanism that explains how some of the ocean's tiniest swimming animals can have a huge impact on large-scale ocean mixing. Dabiri describes, "we've been studying swimming animals for quite some time, the perspective we usually take is that of how the ocean—by its currents, temperature, and chemistry—is affecting the animals. But there have been increasing suggestions that the inverse is also important—how the animals themselves, via swimming, might impact the ocean environment." Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering and chair of the EAS Division described the research as, "truly reflective of the type of exciting, without-boundaries research at which Caltech engineering professors excel." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Michael Roukes and Akshay Naik Create First Nanoscale Mass Spectrometer

07-22-09

Michael L. Roukes, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering; Co-Director, Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleague Akshay Naik have created the first nanoscale mass spectrometer. This new technique simplifies and miniaturizes the measurement of the mass of molecules through the use of very tiny nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) resonators. Askshay Naik explains, "the frequency at which the resonator vibrates is directly proportional to its mass. When a protein lands on the resonator, it causes a decrease in the frequency at which the resonator vibrates and the frequency shift is proportional to the mass of the protein." Professor Roukes points out, "the next generation of instrumentation for the life sciences must enable proteomic analysis with very high throughput. The potential power of our approach is that it is based on semiconductor microelectronics fabrication, which has allowed creation of perhaps mankind's most complex technology." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Michael Roukes Akshay Naik

LaHaye, Schwab, and Roukes Develop New Tool to Search for Quantum Effects

07-02-09

Dr. Matt LaHaye, Professor Keith Schwab, Professor Michael Roukes, and colleagues have developed a new tool to search for quantum effects in ordinary objects. Matt LaHaye is a postdoctoral research scientist working with Michael L. Roukes, a Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering and Codirector of Kavli Nanoscience Institute. "Quantum jumps are, perhaps, the archetypal signature of behavior governed by quantum effects," says Roukes. "To see these requires us to engineer a special kind of interaction between our measurement apparatus and the object being measured. Matt's results establish a practical and really intriguing way to make this happen." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Roukes Keith Schwab postdocs