Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

Faculty

Harry A. Atwater, Jr.

Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis

Professor Atwater's research focuses on quantum and nanophotonics, metamaterials and metasurfaces, artificial photosynthesis, two-dimensional materials, nano- and micro-structured photovoltaics, space solar power and plasmonics.

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Paul M. Bellan

Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Bellan's research area is plasma physics with applications to fusion energy, solar physics, astrophysics, high altitude atmospheric phenomena, and the rings of Saturn. The research is mainly experimental but there is also substantial related theoretical effort. The research involves two major groups:(1) high power fast pulsed plasmas that simulate solar coronal loops, astrophysical jets, and have fusion applications and (2) water ice dusty plasmas relevant to noctilucent clouds and Saturn's rings.

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Marco Bernardi

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Marco Bernardi's research focuses on theoretical and computational materials physics. His group develops new first-principles methods to investigate electron transport, ultrafast dynamics and light-matter interactions in materials. Applications of this research include electronics, optoelectronics, ultrafast spectroscopy, energy and quantum technologies.

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Chiara Daraio

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Prof. Daraio’s research focuses on engineering new materials with advanced mechanical and sensing properties, for application in robotics, medical devices, and vibration absorption. Her group developed new materials and methods for acoustic imaging and thermal sensing in medicine and health monitoring. Recently, her group began exploring new materials from engineered living systems, creating plant-based biological matrix composites with new functionalities.

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Paul E. Dimotakis

John K. Northrop Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Dimotakis focuses on experimental and computational research on turbulent mixing and chemical reactions in subsonic and supersonic free-shear flows; hypersonic propulsion; mixing and the geometry of surfaces and interfaces in turbulence; scalar dispersion in turbulent flows; and related areas.

Space-Related Research

Recent space-related research has been in collaboration with JPL on remote sensing of the atmosphere from space and on the technical feasibility of an asteroid-return mission. Other space-related research has been on high-speed/hypersonic endoatmospheric flight and propulsion, and parachute dynamics for entry, descent, and landing, as well as physics and issues related to a Europa melt-probe to descend to the liquid-water layer.

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Michael Elowitz

Professor of Biology and Bioengineering; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Executive Officer for Biological Engineering

Professor Elowitz works in the areas of systems and synthetic biology. His research seeks to understand fundamental design principles underlying the architecture and dynamics of gene circuits, including the functional role that stochasticity, or 'noise', plays in the cell.  To do so, he analyzes gene circuit behavior at the level of individual cells using time-lapse microscopy, designs and engineers synthetic genetic circuits that are sufficient to enable specific behaviors, and employs mathematical modeling.

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Andrei Faraon

Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering

Faraon's research interests are in solid state quantum optics and nano-photonics. Applications include quantum information processing, on-chip optical signal processing at ultra-low power levels, energy efficient sensors, bio-photonics.

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Brent Fultz

Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics

Professor Fultz focuses on materials physics and materials chemistry, presently with two emphases. One is on the origin of entropy, as studied by neutron scattering and computation. This has expanded to other thermophysical properties. The second is on new materials for energy storage, especially H-storage materials.

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William A. Goddard, III

Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics

Goddard has been a pioneer in developing methods for quantum mechanics (QM), force fields (FF), reactive dynamics (ReaxFF RD), electron dynamics (eFF), molecular dynamics (MD), and Monte Carlo (MC) predictions on chemical, catalytic, and biochemical materials systems.

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Alireza Marandi

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Marandi’s research is focused on fundamental technological developments in Nonlinear Photonics through exploring the frontiers of ultrafast optics, optical frequency combs, quantum optics, optical information processing, mid-infrared photonics, and laser spectroscopy. His team works on realization of novel nonlinear photonic devices and systems for applications ranging from sensing to unconventional computing and information processing, as well as advancing the theoretical understanding of them.

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Austin Minnich

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics

Professor Minnich researches the physics and engineering of nanoscale heat transport. Nanostructured materials have novel thermal properties with applications in energy such as for thermoelectric materials, which convert heat directly to electricity. Minnich uses experimental techniques, including ultrafast optical experiments, to study transport at the length and time scales of the energy carriers themselves. These experiments measure properties of the energy carriers that are lost at macroscopic scales, allowing for a more complete understanding of nanoscale transport physics. Minnich also uses these results to design novel materials and thermal devices, such as more efficient thermoelectric materials and devices for thermal energy storage.

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Stevan Nadj-Perge

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Stevan Nadj-Perge is interested in development of mesoscopic devices for applications in quantum information processing. Such devices also provide a playground for exploring exotic electronic states at (sub)-nano length scales. In his research, he is using scanning tunneling microscopy and electrical transport measurement techniques at cryogenic temperatures.

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Oskar J. Painter

John G Braun Professor of Applied Physics and Physics

Professor Oskar Painter's research interests are in nanophotonics, quantum optics, and optomechanics for applications in precision measurement and quantum information science.

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Rob Phillips

Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics

Professor Phillips focuses on physical biology of the cell: models of transcription and active matter, physical genomes, and biophysical approaches to evolution.

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Michael L. Roukes

Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering

Professor Roukes's research focuses on nanobiotechnology, nanotechnology, nanoscale physics, nanoscale and molecular mechanics.

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Axel Scherer

Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics

Professor Scherer's group focuses on the application of microfabrication to integrated microsystems. Recently, his group has specialized on developing sensors and diagnostic tools that can be used for low-cost point-of-care disease detection as well as precision health monitoring.

Professor Scherer has pioneered microcavity lasers and filters, and now his group works on integration of microfluidic chips with electronic, photonic and magnetic sensors. His group has also developed silicon nanophotonics and surface plasmon enhanced light emitting diodes, and has perfected the fabrication and characterization of ultra-small structures by lithography and electron microscopy.

Presently, his group works on integration of microfluidic chips with electronic, photonic and magnetic sensors. His group has also developed silicon nanophotonics and surface plasmon enhanced light emitting diodes, and has perfected the fabrication and characterization of ultra-small structures by lithography and electron microscopy.

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Keith C. Schwab

Professor of Applied Physics

Professor Schwab's current focus is the development of Josephson junctions for superfluid helium-4 with the goal to build quantum devices such as interferometers and quantum bits from this material.  What makes this now possible are the advances in 2d nanometerials with nanometer pores.

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Sandra M. Troian

Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering

The Laboratory of Interfacial and Small Scale Transport {LIS2T} in the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science at the California Institute of Technology specializes in both fundamental analysis and engineering design of micro/nanoscale fluidic systems. Of particular interest are small scale systems  dominated by large surface forces due to patterned capillary, van der Waals, Maxwell, thermocapillary and Marangoni fields. Theoretical analysis, numerical simulations (both continuum and molecular scale) and experimentation are all used to develop fundamental physical insight as well as robust design principles for application driven projects. Group focus is on formation, propagation, stability, coupling and control of nonlinear wave phenomena at the micro/nanoscale which induces rapid transport of mass, momentum and heat at moving interfaces. Systems of current theoretical interest include cusp formation in thermally and electrically driven thin films for super anti-reflecting coatings and space micropropulsion devices; nanofluidic phenomena involving Kapitza thermal jumps, layering transitions and thermal rectification in nanoscale devices; spatio-temporal parametric resonance and array formations in thin polymeric films exposed to large thermocapillary and Maxwell patterned fields; Lyapunov, modal and transient growth stability analyses of non-normal systems at zero Reynolds number; capillary and field enhanced propellant management systems for space micropropulsion applications; and solution of inverse problems for 3D lithographic patterning of nanofilms. Systems of current experimental interest include non-contact lithography of 3D micro-optical structures by patterned external fields; Marangoni wave phenomena and fractal wavefronts in biophysical systems; influence of layering transitions on slip behavior in nanoscale films; and optical wave propagation in structured polymeric waveguides.

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Kerry J. Vahala

Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics

Kerry Vahala has pioneered nonlinear optics in high-Q optical micro resonators. His research group has launched many of the areas of study in this field and invented optical resonators that hold the record for highest optical Q on a semiconductor chip.  Vahala has applied these devices to a wide range of nonlinear phenomena and applications. This includes the first demonstration of parametric oscillation and cascaded four-wave mixing in a micro cavity - the central regeneration mechanisms for frequency micro combs; electro-optical frequency division - used in the most stable commercial K-band oscillators;  and the first observation of dynamic back action in cavity optomechanical systems. His micro-resonator devices are used at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in chip-based optical clocks and frequency synthesizers. They have also been used at the Keck II observatory in Hawaii as miniature astrocombs in the search for exoplanets. Vahala's current research is focused on the application of high-Q optical micro resonators to miniature precision metrology systems as well as monolithic optical gyroscopes. Professor Vahala was also involved in the early effort to develop quantum-well lasers for optical communications. That work formed the basis for nearly all of today’s high-speed semiconductor laser design for lightwave high-speed telecommunications, particularly in the metropolitan and local-area arena.

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Amnon Yariv

Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering

Professor Amnon Yariv's research focuses on the theoretical and technological underpinning of optical communication. Present projects include: new types of semiconductor lasers, optical phase-lock systems and coherent photonics, hybrid Si/III-V devices for lasers, detectors and modulation, "Slow" light propagation in artificial periodic dielectric waveguides.

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Emeriti

Noel R. Corngold

Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Corngold focuses on nuclear reactor physics, theories of particle transport, and the physics of non-neutral plasmas.

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James P. Eisenstein

Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Eisenstein focuses on experimental condensed-matter physics, particularly strongly correlated electrons in semiconductor heterostructures at low temperatures and high magnetic fields.

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David L. Goodstein

Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor, Emeritus; Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Goodstein focuses on phases and phase transitions in two and three dimensional matter, superfluidity, science education, and scientific ethics.

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Roy W. Gould

Simon Ramo Professor of Engineering, Emeritus

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Wolfgang Knauss

Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics, Emeritus

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Marc-Aurele Nicolet

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Professor Nicolet focuses on solid-state device technology: thin-film processes and surface layer phenomena.

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