News & Events


Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have developed the world’s lightest solid material, with a density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. The new material, called a micro-lattice, relies, on a lattice architecture: tiny hollow tubes made of nickel-phosphorous are angled to connect at nodes, forming repeating, asterisklike unit cells in three dimensions. "We're entering a new era of materials science where material properties are determined not only by the microscopic makeup of the material but also by the architecture of the constituents," Greer says. [Caltech Feature]

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Role of Signaling and Circuits in Cancer


Michael Elowitz, Professor of Biology and Bioengineering, has received a $2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) award from the Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation to study what happens to cell-to-cell communication and the circuits of interacting biomolecules that control differentiation and other normal cellular processes when cancer takes hold. [Caltech Feature]

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Using DNA to Manufacture Nanoscale Devices


William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, has received $1.25 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a process that takes advantage of DNA's talent for self-assembly to arrange nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and proteins into configurations designed for use in devices such as sensors, transistors, and optical components. [Caltech Feature]

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Auctions, Traffic, Selfishness, and Data Privacy


Problems where a conflict or tension exists between individual incentives and more global objective are one of the foci of Professor Katrina Ligett's research. "I'm interested in new algorithms, in understanding how difficult it is to solve problems," Ligett, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Economics, says. "There aren't that many places where computer scientists and economists actually talk to each other. At Caltech, people are really interested in and committed to investigating at this intersection, and that's very appealing." [Caltech Feature]

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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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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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Caltech Engineers Build Smart Petri Dish


Electrical engineering graduate student Guoan Zheng, working with Professor Changhuei Yang and Professor Michael Elowitz, has built a platform for a "smart" petri dish, dubbed ePetri. "Our ePetri dish is a compact, small, lens-free microscopy imaging platform. We can directly track the cell culture or bacteria culture within the incubator," explains Zheng, "the data from the ePetri dish automatically transfers to a computer outside the incubator by a cable connection... this technology can significantly streamline and improve cell culture experiments by cutting down on human labor and contamination risks." [Caltech Press Release]

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Professor Low Receives 2011 Okawa Foundation Research Grant


Steven Low, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, is a recipient of a 2011 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for his research project entitled "Uncertainty Mitigation for Renewable Energy Integration".  This prize honors top young researchers working in the fields of information and telecommunications. 

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Professor Siapas Receives NIH Pioneer Award


Thanos Siapas, Professor of Computation and Neural Systems, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pioneer Award.  He plans to use the award to develop neural probes for large-scale recordings of brain activity. "Brain functions such as perception, learning, and memory arise from the coordinated activation of billions of neurons distributed throughout the brain," Siapas says. "While we know a lot about the properties of individual neurons, much less is known about how assemblies of neurons interact to perform computations. Our goal is to develop large-scale, multielectrode arrays that will enable the monitoring of many neurons simultaneously across different brain areas. We hope that such arrays will expose new fundamental insights into brain activity, and will find application in the study of animal models of brain disorders." [Caltech Press Release]

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Visualizing Flow Fields


The research of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, on visualizing flow fields around jelly fish and ocean circulation is featured in the recent issue of the National Geographic Magazine. [Excerpt from magazine]

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