Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Celebrating 50 Years of the Argon Ion Laser


William Bridges, Carl F Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, discovered and patented the Argon ion laser on February 14, 1964, while at Hughes Research Laboratories. Today noble gas (argon, krypton, xenon) lasers are used in a variety of applications including DNA sequencers, cell sorters, eye surgery, and laser light shows. Professor Bridges' research work with lasers involved an airborne night reconnaissance system (AN/AVD-3), space communications systems, early high power laser weapons (the carbon dioxide gas dynamic laser), and hydrogen maser clocks for the global positioning system. He also holds the patent for the Ionized Noble Gas Laser. [Oral History of Prof. Bridges]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights EAS history William Bridges

Nanoscale Materials and Big Solar Energy


As a high school student during the oil crisis of the 1970s, Professor Harry Atwater recognized firsthand the impact of energy supply issues. Inspired to contribute to renewable energies, his research at Caltech today works to develop better thin-film photovoltaics—cheaper, lighter, more efficient alternatives to the bulky cells now used in solar panels. [Interview with Professor Atwater]

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How Super-Efficient Nanomaterials Could Herald a Design Revolution


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, was one of the presenters in Caltech’s IDEAS LAB at the 2014 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Also presenting at the meeting were Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, and Paul W. Sternberg, Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology.

Tags: APhMS research highlights Julia Greer

Former Caltech Postdoc Receives Israel Prize


Mordechai (Moti) Segev, a former postdoctoral fellow in Professor Amnon Yariv's group, will be receiving the Israel Prize for Physics and Chemistry. Dr. Segev is receiving the prize for ground-breaking research in the field of optics and lasers. "I am naturally proud of the achievements of former students and postdocs who started their scientific career in my group," says Professor Yariv. "Among this group Moti has become, in the relatively short time since leaving us, one the best known and influential scientists in the world in the field of quantum electronics and its amazing offspring of nonlinear optics. I am looking forward to a continuing stream of intellectual and experimental innovation flowing from him and his research group at the Technion."

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New Home for Interdisciplinary Photonics Research


Professor Harry Atwater is the new Editor-in-Chief of ACS Photonics. View the video to learn more about his research as well as his vision "to create a global home for interdisciplinary photonics research that moves the field forward with intensity and excitement."

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Harry Atwater

Made-to-Order Materials


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have created nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that the small building blocks, or unit cells, display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air. The general fabrication technique the researchers have developed could be used to produce lightweight, mechanically robust small-scale components such as batteries, interfaces, catalysts, and implantable biomedical devices. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights MedE health MCE Julia Greer

Producing Squeezed Light Using a Silicon Micromechanical System


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics, and colleagues have produced squeezed light using a silicon micromechanical system. "This system should enable a new set of precision microsensors capable of beating standard limits set by quantum mechanics," says Professor Painter. "Our experiment brings together, in a tiny microchip package, many aspects of work that has been done in quantum optics and precision measurement over the last 40 years." [Caltech Release]

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Developing Self-replicating Nanoscale Origami


William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, and colleagues including Postdoctoral Scholar Si-ping Han have been awarded a $2 million grant as part of the National Science Foundation’s Origami Design for Integration of Self-assembling Systems for Engineering Innovation program. The funds will be used to develop biomimetic materials which contain assembled complexes of molecules that self-replicate, evolve and adopt intricate three dimensional structures at the nanometer scale by combining DNA guided self-assembly with origami folding.

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Tags: APhMS research highlights health William Goddard Paul Rothemund Si-ping Han

Professor Roukes Honored by the French Republic


Michael L. Roukes, Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering, has received the Chevalier de l'ordre des Palmes Académiques, which is the Knight grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms. Founded by Napoleon in 1808 to honor educators and scholars, this distinction recognizes eminent personalities who have made significant contributions to the development of French culture, science, and education. The Consul General of France in Los Angeles, Axel Cruau, presented Professor Roukes with the medal and in his remarks he cited Roukes's collaborations with French research institutions and noted his instrumental role in helping to start the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a national program proposed by President Barack Obama to build a comprehensive map of activity in the human brain. [Caltech Release]

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PhD Comics Features Professor Painter's Research


The research of Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics, and his student Amir Safavi-Naeini is featured in an animated videos by Jorge Cham of PhD Comics.  The video is called A Quantum Experiment and is about cooling an oscillator to its ground state. Read Jorge's comments about the project in his post on the IQIM blog. [watch the video] [Caltech release about the research]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Oskar Painter Amir Safavi-Naeini