Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events

Highlights

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

New Breed of Optical Soliton Wave Discovered

09-06-16

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics, and colleagues have discovered a new type of optical soliton wave that travels in the wake of other soliton waves, hitching a ride on and feeding off of the energy of the other wave. Solitons are localized waves that act like particles. Professor Vahala likens these newly discovered solitons to pilot fish, carnivorous tropical fish that swim next to a shark so they can pick up scraps from the shark's meals. And by swimming in the shark's wake, the pilot fish reduce the drag of water on their own body, so they can travel with less effort. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala

Novel Calibration Tool Will Help Astronomers

01-27-16

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a novel calibration tool, called a laser frequency comb, which could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. The comb produces easily resolvable lines, without any need for filtering and is built from off-the-shelf components developed by the telecommunications industry. "We have demonstrated an alternative approach that is simple, reliable, and relatively inexpensive," says Professor Vahala. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala

Highly Cited Researchers

09-11-15

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

'Comb on a Chip' Powers New Atomic Clock Design

07-22-14

Scott Diddams who was a 2012 Caltech Moore Distinguished Scholar and is a Project Lead at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues including Professor Kerry Vahala have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale frequency comb, or a microcomb. The microcomb clock is the first demonstration of all-optical control of the microcomb, and its accurate conversion of optical frequencies to lower microwave frequencies. Caltech researchers made the 2-millimeter-wide silica disk that generates the frequency comb for the new clock. [NIST Press Release] [Learn More]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST Scott Diddams

Future Electronics May Depend on Lasers, Not Quartz

07-18-14

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics as well as the Executive Officer for APhMS, and colleagues have developed a method to stabilize microwave signals in the range of gigahertz, or billions of cycles per second—using a pair of laser beams as the reference, in lieu of a quartz crystal. "There are always tradeoffs between the highest performance, the smallest size, and the best ease of integration. But even in this first demonstration, these optical oscillators have many advantages; they are on par with, and in some cases even better than, what is available with widespread electronic technology," Vahala says. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST

Highly Cited

06-20-14

The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—from the period 2002–2012 include EAS professors Harry Atwater, Richard Murray, Joel Tropp, John Seinfeld, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. Other Caltech professors were also among the top 1%—including Colin Camerer, Mark Davis, Richard Ellis, William Goddard, Robert Grubbs, Hiroo Kanamori, Jeff Kimble, John O’Doherty, and Charles Steidel. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields.  [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Richard Murray

Professor Vahala Elected Fellow of IEEE

02-03-14

Kerry J. Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics, has been elected as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Elevation to IEEE Fellow is one of the most prestigious honors given by the IEEE, which is the world's largest professional association.

Tags: APhMS honors Kerry Vahala

Spirals of Light May Lead to Better Electronics

09-25-13

Kerry J. Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics as well as Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created the optical equivalent of a tuning fork—a device that can help steady the electrical currents needed to power high-end electronics and stabilize the signals of high-quality lasers. They were able to stabilize the light's frequency by developing a silica glass chip resonator with a specially designed path for the photons in the shape of what is called an Archimedean spiral. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS energy Kerry Vahala

Oskar Painter and Kerry Vahala Trap Light and Sound Vibrations Together in Nanocrystal

10-26-09

Oskar Painter, Associate Professor of Applied Physics, and Kerry J. Vahala Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Professor of Applied Physics; Director, The Lee Center for Advanced Networking have created a nanoscale crystal device that, for the first time, allows scientists to confine both light and sound vibrations in the same tiny space. "This novel approach... exemplifies the forward-thinking work being done by the Engineering and Applied Science division," says Ares Rosakis, Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at Caltech. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights CMS Oskar Painter Kerry Vahala