Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Atomic Fractals in Metallic Glasses


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues including graduate student David Chen have shown that metallic glasses has an atomic-level structure although it differs from the periodic lattices that characterize crystalline metals. "Our group has solved this paradox by showing that atoms are only arranged fractally up to a certain scale," Greer says. "Larger than that scale, clusters of atoms are packed randomly and tightly, making a fully dense material, just like a regular metal. So we can have something that is both fractal and fully dense." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer David Chen

Highly Cited Researchers


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—include EAS professors Harry Atwater, William Goddard, Babak Hassibi, Joel Tropp, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields. [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS EE honors Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg William Goddard Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Babak Hassibi

Professor Bernardi Wins the Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has won the 2015 Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award. The award is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding computational work in condensed-matter, materials, or nanoscience research involving electronic structure calculations. Professor Bernardi has received it for his research in first principles electronic structure calculations of the ultrafast dynamics of excited electrons in materials. His research is addressing the question of “how does an excited electron lose its energy?” which is central in a variety of fields ranging from condensed matter physics to electrical engineering and energy. Bernardi has developed and applied calculations to study the dynamics of out-of-equilibrium charge carriers, also known as hot carriers, in semiconductors and metals. [Learn more]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlight Marco Bernardi

New, Ultrathin Optical Devices Shape Light in Exotic Ways


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created silicon nanopillars devices capable of manipulating light in ways that are very difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional optical components. The devices are precisely arranged into a honeycomb pattern to create a "metasurface" that can control the paths and properties of passing light waves. Professor Faraon describes, "this new technology is very similar to the one used to print semiconductor chips onto silicon wafers, so you could conceivably manufacture millions of systems such as microscopes or cameras at a time." [Caltech story] [BBC video clip]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

Seeing Quantum Motion


Keith Schwab, Professor of Applied Physics, has found a way to observe and control the quantum motion of an object that is large enough to see. Schwab's group has learned how to cool the motion of small micrometer-scale objects to produce the quantum ground state. This quantum motion is theoretically an intrinsic part of the motion of all objects. Schwab and his colleagues designed a device that would allow them to observe this quantum motion and then manipulate it. The ability to control quantum noise could one day be used to improve the precision of very sensitive measurements, such as those designed to search for signs of gravitational waves. [Caltech Story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Keith Schwab

Professor Fultz to Receive William Hume-Rothery Award


Brent Fultz, Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, has been named by the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) as the recipient of the 2016 William Hume-Rothery Award. He is receiving the award for “his groundbreaking contributions to the thermodynamics of materials.” This pinnacle award recognizes a scientific leader for exceptional scholarly contributions to the science of alloys. Professor Fultz will also be an honored presenter at the William Hume-Rothery Memorial Symposium held in conjunction with the TMS Annual Meeting.

Tags: APhMS honors Brent Fultz

Professors Rosakis and Daraio Honored by Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM)


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, is the 2015 recipient of the Sia Nemat-Nasser Medal “for innovative singular theoretical and experimental contributions in dynamic fracture and optical techniques, and their application to rupture faults.” The Sia Nemat-Nasser Medal is awarded by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM) and recognizes an individual for distinguished, innovative, and outstanding work that has realized the impact of experimental mechanics on other scientific and engineering fields through an integrated multidisciplinary research. Professor Rosakis received the award at the 2015 SEM annual conference. At the same event Professor Chiara Daraio and colleagues received the 2015 M. Hetényi Award for best research paper published in Experimental Mechanics. Furthermore, EAS alumnus Hugh Bruck became a 2015 fellow and EAS alumnus John Lambros received the M.M. Frocht Award.

Tags: APhMS honors Chiara Daraio GALCIT Ares Rosakis Hugh Bruck John Lambros

New Thin, Flat Lenses Focus Light as Sharply as Curved Lenses


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created flat microlenses with performance on a par with conventional, curved lenses. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. The Caltech team’s new flat lenses focus as much as 82 percent of infrared light passing through them. By comparison, previous studies have found that metallic flat lenses have efficiencies of only around a few percent. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

Professor Minnich Receives Young Investigator Award


Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has won a 2015 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Professor Minnich’s award is for his proposal entitled, “Investigation of the Atomistic Mechanisms Governing Heat Conduction in Polymers.” [List of Recipients]

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Austin Minnich

Space Solar Power Initiative


Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

Tags: APhMS EE energy research highlights GALCIT Harry Atwater Ares Rosakis Ali Hajimiri Sergio Pellegrino