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Disorder Is Key to Nanotube Mystery

08-12-11

William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics; and Posdoctoral Scholar Tod Pascal believe to have solved the mystery of why water spontaneously flows into extremely small tubes of graphite or graphene, called carbon nanotubes.  Using a novel method to calculate the dynamics of water molecules they have found that entropy is the missing key.  "It's a pretty surprising result," says Professor Goddard "People normally focus on energy in this problem, not entropy." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights William Goddard Tod Pascal

Cell-phone Medical Devices

08-08-11

Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Computer Science; Deputy Chair for Education, and Julian J. Bunn, Principal Computational Scientist at CACR, are working with a group of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) in CMS, EE, and MCE to building a collection of medical devices that can be connected to a cell phone. "We want to exploit cell-phone technology and the Internet to provide inexpensive health-care tests for the poor in remote rural villages," says Chandy. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: EE research highlights health MCE CMS Kanianthra Mani Chandy Julian Bunn SURF

Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology

08-04-11

Liang Feng, a Postdoctoral Scholar in Electrical Engineering who works with Professor Axel Scherer, has designed a new type of optical waveguide - a 0.8-micron-wide silicon device. The waveguide allows light to go in one direction but changes the mode of the light when it travels in the opposite direction. This new technique to isolate light signals on a silicon chip, solves a longstanding problem in engineering photonic chips. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS EE energy research highlights Liang Feng Axel Scherer postdocs

One-way Transmission System for Sound Waves

07-26-11

Postdoctoral scholar, Georgios Theocharis, and GALCIT alumnus Nicholas Boechler; working with Professor Chiara Daraio, have created the first tunable acoustic diode- a device that allows acoustic information to travel only in one direction, at controllable frequencies. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Georgios Theocharis Nicholas Boechler postdocs

First Artificial Neural Network Created Out of DNA

07-21-11

Lulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering; Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering; and Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering, are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights Jehoshua Bruck health CMS Erik Winfree Lulu Qian postdocs

Solar-Powered Sanitation System

07-19-11

Michael R Hoffmann, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science, has received a $400,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a solar-powered portable toilet that could help solve a major health problem in developing countries. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights health ESE Michael Hoffmann

Wind-turbine Placement Produces Tenfold Power Increase

07-13-11

Field tests of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and colleagues' vertical-axis wind turbines have shown that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold— by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land. "Dabiri's bioinspired engineering research is challenging the status quo in wind-energy technology," says Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "This exemplifies how Caltech engineers' innovative approaches are tackling our society's greatest problems." [Caltech Press Release] [Videos of Turbines]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Sander Weinreb Awarded the Karl G. Jansky Lectureship

06-16-11

Dr. Sander Weinreb, Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering, has been awarded the Karl G. Jansky Lectureship. This is an honor established to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of radio astronomy. Weinreb’s development of the first autocorrelation spectrometer and the detection of the first interstellar molecule at radio wavelengths revolutionized astronomy. He has been a leader in the technological development of cm and mm astronomy throughout his career.

Tags: EE honors energy research highlights Sander Weinreb

Geographical Load Balancing with Renewables

06-14-11

Professors Adam Wierman and Steven Low, along with CMS graduate students Zhenhua Liu and Minghong Lin have received the best paper award at the ACM GreenMetrics conference for their paper "Geographical Load Balancing with Renewables". The paper provides algorithms that can allow renewable energy to be efficiently used by geographically distributed data centers (such as those used by Google) in order to almost completely eliminate the usage of brown energy. [Read the Paper]

Tags: honors energy research highlights CMS Adam Wierman Steven Low Minghong Lin Zhenhua Liu

Compaction Bands in Sandstone are Permeable

06-06-11

José E. Andrade, Associate Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated. Their paper provides the first permeability calculations based on actual rock samples taken directly from the field in the Valley of Fire, Nevada. They conclude that these formations are not as impermeable as previously believed, and that therefore their ability to trap fluids—like oil, gas, and CO2—should be measured based on 3D images taken from the field. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: energy research highlights MCE Jose Andrade