News & Events


Melissa Yeung Wins DOE Fellowship for Computational Science


Graduate student Melissa Yeung, working with Professor Mathieu Desbrun, is one of 21 students nationally to receive a Department of Energy (DOE) 2012 Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Yeung studies an area of mathematics known as discrete differential geometry, which has diverse applications in such fields as engineering, computer animation, product design, and medicine. [Caltech Feature]

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Finalist for Library Senior Thesis Prize


Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student Robert Karol, who is also minoring in Aerospace and Control and Dynamical Systems, was the finalist for the 2012 Friends of Caltech Libraries Senior Thesis Prize. His thesis is entitled “Peak Seeking Controller for Real Time Mobile Satellite Tracking” and was written under the direction of Professor Richard Murray and Mechanical Engineering alumnus Gunnar Ristroph (BS '06) of IJK Controls.

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Calculating the Capacity of a Network


Michelle Effros, Professor of Electrical Engineering, and information theorist colleagues have begun to tackle the difficult problem of calculating capacities for large communication networks such as the internet and mobile phone networks. In two recent publications, they introduce techniques useful for improving the performance of current communication networks and for designing the networks of the future. By demonstrating where current technology falls short of what's possible, these techniques provide a new tool for strategically guiding research and development. [Read the Publications]

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Liquid-like Materials May Pave Way for New Thermoelectric Devices


Jeff Snyder, Faculty Associate in Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have identified a liquid-like compound whose properties give it the potential to be even more efficient than traditional thermoelectrics. [Caltech Press Release]

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Plasmas Torn Apart


Using high-speed cameras to look at jets of plasma in the lab, Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics, and colleagues have made a discovery that may be important in understanding phenomena like solar flares and in developing nuclear fusion as a future energy source. "Trying to understand nature by using engineering techniques is indeed a hallmark of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech," says Ares Rosakis, Chair of the Engineering and Applied Science Division. [Caltech release] [Plasma movie]

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Naturally Inspired


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering, and colleagues are studying the properties of the zebrafish embryonic heart to address problems as diverse as ringing in the ears and overheated electronics. They have also developed the first pump built entirely from biological building blocks. “We can actually be more clever than nature,” Gharib says. “We can get inspired by nature and use engineering to come up with better functions. Just look at 747s—they fly from LAX to La Guardia much more efficiently than any bird could.” 

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An Incredible Shrinking Material


Graduate student, Chen Li, and colleagues including Brent Fultz,  Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, have shown how scandium trifluoride (ScF3) contracts with heat.  "A pure quartic oscillator is a lot of fun," Professor Fultz says. "Now that we've found a case that's very pure, I think we know where to look for it in many other materials." Understanding quartic oscillator behavior will help engineers design materials with unusual thermal properties. "In my opinion," Fultz says, "that will be the biggest long-term impact of this work." [Caltech Press Release] [Nature Article]

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Fueling Fundamental Research


To strengthen fundamental science and technology and foster transformational advances in renewable energies, the Dow Chemical Company and Caltech have established a $10 million partnership. Under the partnership, Dow will provide ongoing support for graduate student research through endowed fellowships which include five in energy science. The Resnick Sustainability Institute is receiving a significant portion of the funding in the agreement. Through the new Dow Chemical Company Bridge/CI2 Innovation Program, financial support will be used to further promising graduate and postdoc research that has the possibility of creating licensable technologies and start-ups. The graduate research fellowships in energy—renewable for up to two years—will help advance clean-energy goals. [Caltech Press Release]

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Using Laser Light to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics and Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues including graduate student Jasper Chan have cooled a miniature mechanical object—a tiny mechanical silicon beam— to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors. "In many ways, the experiment we've done provides a starting point for the really interesting quantum-mechanical experiments one wants to do," Painter says. [Caltech Press Release]

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Solar Decathlon Team


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), placed 6th at the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. In the category of Energy Balance we tied for first place; in the categories of engineering and home entertainment, we placed 2nd, and in affordability we placed third. [Final scores and photos

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