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Böttger Luster: Solving an Artistic Cold Case

05-19-22

In the 18th century, a new purple overglaze enamel emerged from a factory near Dresden, Germany. Named after a German pioneer of porcelain and supposed alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger, this iridescent glaze became known as Böttger luster. Why this porcelain overglaze exhibited iridescence when other purple glazes of the time lacked a lustrous shine remained a mystery until now. The research that started at Northwestern University over a decade ago recently finished at Caltech under the leadership of Katherine Faber, Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Katherine Faber Celia Chari Zane Taylor Sujing Xie Anikó Bezur

Researchers Help Generate First Image of Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy

05-12-22

A multi-institution collaboration that includes a Caltech-led imaging team has generated the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This result provides conclusive evidence that the body, known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*, pronounced "sadge-ay-star"), is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such massive objects, which are thought to reside at the center of most galaxies. "We not only recovered an image of Sgr A*, but also characterized the uncertainty of features in the image," says He Sun. "This analysis helped the team deliver scientific results with some guarantees." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Katie Bouman He Sun Junhan Kim Aviad Levis

Nanofabrication Courses Let Caltech Undergraduates Get Hands-on at the Smallest Scales

05-10-22

Engineers at companies like Intel who design and build chipsets and microprocessors must manipulate components at impossibly small scales. Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics; Merkin Institute Professor, says the current state of the art involves working at the scale of 7 to 10 nanometers (or billionths of a meter). In five years, he says, that figure will likely be down to 3 nanometers or smaller—and students who take his new course, Nanofabrication Techniques, will be ready for this challenge. "The students are going to design the next generation of devices," Scherer says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE Axel Scherer Changsoon Choi Paromita Mitchell

Rapid Adaptation of Deep Learning Teaches Drones to Survive Any Weather

05-05-22

To be truly useful, drones—that is, autonomous flying vehicles—will need to learn to navigate real-world weather and wind conditions. A team of engineers from Caltech has developed Neural-Fly, a deep-learning method that can help drones cope with new and unknown wind conditions in real time just by updating a few key parameters. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT CMS Yisong Yue Soon-Jo Chung Animashree Anandkumar Xichen Shi Guanya Shi Michael O'Connell Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

Pioneering New Frontiers in Topological Physics

04-28-22

A team of engineers led by Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, recently opened a new frontier in topological physics, which is the field that seeks to understand the topological properties that arise in coupled systems based on how they are organized and coupled. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Alireza Marandi James Williams Midya Parto

A Science Journey with Fernando Villafuerte

04-26-22

As part of the Science Journeys lecture series—designed to inspire scientific curiosity, especially among students in eighth grade and higher—graduate student Fernando Villafuerte discussed his path to Caltech and his research on batteries, including their role in sustainability solutions. Villafuerte works in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; and Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. His research focuses on a novel material known as a solid polymer electrolyte, which could potentially be used to create batteries that can store more energy than currently possible. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer Fernando Villafuerte

The Grid Gets Smart

04-25-22

Adaptive electric vehicle chargers and advanced battery designs are some of the ways Caltech researchers are building a more sustainable electric grid. Steven Low, Frank J. Gilloon Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, invented the Adaptive Charging Network (ACN). But Low and others warn that this grid is unprepared for the challenges of the 21st century. “The current grid will very soon hit a wall where, when we add renewable energy, it sits unused because the demand isn’t there at a time when the solar is running,” says Adam Wierman, Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences; Director, Information Science and Technology. That is why Caltech researchers are working on ways to break down that barrier to help empower an energy transformation. Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, is pushing the limits of the batteries themselves.  [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Julia Greer Adam Wierman Steven Low Kimberly See

Startup Company Captura Receives XPRIZE Award

04-25-22

Caltech-based startup company Captura, which captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from ocean water to combat climate change, has been awarded $1 million from the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. Captura was co-founded by Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, and Chengxiang "CX" Xiang, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. It has the potential to scale up to harvesting gigatons of carbon dioxide—that is, billions of tons—from the ocean every year. "As far as we can tell, Captura is one the very few companies that is doing carbon capture from ocean water," Xiang says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater Chengxiang Xiang

What Is the Future of Wind Energy?

04-21-22

Humans have used windmills to capture the force of the wind as mechanical energy for more than 1,300 years. Unlike early windmills, however, modern wind turbines use generators and other components to convert energy from the spinning blades into a smooth flow of AC electricity. In this video, John Dabiri, Centennial Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering discusses the future of wind energy technology. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE John Dabiri

CE10 Aims to Develop the Roadmap Toward a 50 Percent Reduction in U.S. Global Warming Gas Emissions by 2032

04-18-22

How do we cut U.S. global warming gas emissions by 50 percent within the next 10 years? This question represents the bold target set by President Biden in 2020 to secure U.S. leadership on clean energy technologies by the end of the decade. However, with energy production and consumption in the U.S. intertwined among political, ideological, and technological complexities, the path toward a cleaner energy future remains unclear. The Caltech Energy 10 Project (CE10) aims to define the ambitious but achievable solutions needed to cut U.S. global warming gas emissions in half by 2032. Visit the CE10 website for more detail, a full schedule of speakers, and a link to register for the public program. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights