Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

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Highlights

"Hot" Electrons Move Faster Than Expected

06-15-17

For the first time, Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have been able to directly observe the ultrafast motion of electrons immediately after they are excited with a laser—and found that these electrons diffuse into their surroundings much faster and farther than previously expected. "Our work shows the existence of a fast transient that lasts for a few hundred picoseconds, during which electrons move much faster than their room-temperature speed, implying that they can cover longer distances in a given time when manipulated with lasers," says Professor Bernardi. "This non-equilibrium behavior could be employed in novel electronic, optoelectronic, and renewable energy devices, as well as to uncover new fundamental physics." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Marco Bernardi

A Quantitative Study of Living Matter

06-14-17

Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has reinvents the Caltech freshman biology course. "I believe the most fascinating subject of our time is the quantitative study of living matter, trying to understand the living part of the world with the same precision as we have understood the inorganic world," he says. "Many students think of biology as a subject that is all about a variety of facts. I reject this viewpoint and in teaching this class I aimed to find an alternative to the 'death by powerpoint' approach." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Rob Phillips

Aadith Moorthy Receives 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

05-30-17

Materials science and computer science student Aadith Moorthy mentored by Professor Brent Fultz is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. He is working on improving graphene’s ability to store hydrogen, for use in fuel cell cars of the future. Moorthy is also the founder of ConserWater Technologies (conserwater.com), an Artificial Intelligence company that helps farmers reduce water use by up to 30%. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: APhMS honors Henry Ford II Scholar Award Brent Fultz Aadith Moorthy

Sarang Mittal Receives 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

05-15-17

Applied Physics student Sarang Mittal, advised by Professor Oskar Painter, is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. He is currently working with Professor Maria Spiropulu’s team to explore the applications of deep learning and artificial intelligence in high energy particle physics. Using data from the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, he is trying to improve the data analysis pipeline at the Large Hadron Collider. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: APhMS Henry Ford II Scholar Award Oskar Painter Sarang Mittal Maria Spiropulu

Riding The Crest

05-15-17

Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, is one of the hard-core scientists/athletes recently featured in the Caltech Magazine. In the article he is shown seeking surfing solitude in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. He describes, “I try to go places where there’s no one else. In Alaska I found a place never surfed by anybody.” He has also sought surf nirvana in Sumatra, the Maldives, Biarritz, and—closer at hand—off Carpinteria State Beach in Santa Barbara County. On the connection between sports and science, Phillips says, “One of the things I notice about the people I admire the most in science is that they’re still in touch with a childlike enthusiasm, an intensity, a curiosity.” [Read the article]

Tags: APhMS Rob Phillips

Observations Reshape Basic Plasma Wave Physics

04-06-17

Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics , and colleagues have discovered a new way to determine the wavelength of energy flowing through plasma in space—a method that was recently applied during a NASA mission that yielded the first solid evidence of how energy sloshes back and forth in a magnetic wave that moves through the plasma surrounding the earth. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Paul Bellan

New Materials Could Turn Water into the Fuel of the Future

03-06-17

Researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels. "The key advance made by the team was to combine the best capabilities enabled by theory and supercomputers with novel high throughput experiments to generate scientific knowledge at an unprecedented rate," says John Gregoire, JCAP thrust coordinator for Photoelectrocatalysis and leader of the High Throughput Experimentation group. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights JCAP John Gregoire

Engineers Create Artificial Skin That "Feels" Temperature Changes

01-30-17

Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed an artificial skin capable of detecting temperature changes using a mechanism similar to the one used by the organ that allows pit vipers to sense their prey. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE

Tools and Techniques to Track and Study Methane

01-19-17

Methane is less prevalent in the atmosphere than fellow greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), but it presents more difficult challenges for researchers attempting to study it. Professor Wennberg, is working with colleagues from across Caltech to study methane and its effects on the globe and to pioneer tools and techniques needed to identify, track, and characterize the gas and its sources. One such colleague is Professor Vahala who has paved the way for the miniaturization of high-resolution spectrometers. His new soliton-based system is the basis for a new collaboration with Professor Frankenberg to apply dual-comb spectrometer to methane tracking and analysis. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights ESE Paul Wennberg Kerry Vahala Christian Frankenberg

The Future is Flat (For Lenses)

12-22-16

Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a system of flat optical lenses that can be easily mass-produced and integrated with image sensors, paving the way for cheaper and lighter cameras in everything from cell phones to medical devices. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon