Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Nanofabrication Courses Let Caltech Undergraduates Get Hands-on at the Smallest Scales


Engineers at companies like Intel who design and build chipsets and microprocessors must manipulate components at impossibly small scales. Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics; Merkin Institute Professor, says the current state of the art involves working at the scale of 7 to 10 nanometers (or billionths of a meter). In five years, he says, that figure will likely be down to 3 nanometers or smaller—and students who take his new course, Nanofabrication Techniques, will be ready for this challenge. "The students are going to design the next generation of devices," Scherer says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE Axel Scherer Changsoon Choi Paromita Mitchell

Pioneering New Frontiers in Topological Physics


A team of engineers led by Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, recently opened a new frontier in topological physics, which is the field that seeks to understand the topological properties that arise in coupled systems based on how they are organized and coupled. [Caltech story]

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A Science Journey with Fernando Villafuerte


As part of the Science Journeys lecture series—designed to inspire scientific curiosity, especially among students in eighth grade and higher—graduate student Fernando Villafuerte discussed his path to Caltech and his research on batteries, including their role in sustainability solutions. Villafuerte works in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; and Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. His research focuses on a novel material known as a solid polymer electrolyte, which could potentially be used to create batteries that can store more energy than currently possible. [Caltech story]

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Startup Company Captura Receives XPRIZE Award


Caltech-based startup company Captura, which captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from ocean water to combat climate change, has been awarded $1 million from the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. Captura was co-founded by Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, and Chengxiang "CX" Xiang, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. It has the potential to scale up to harvesting gigatons of carbon dioxide—that is, billions of tons—from the ocean every year. "As far as we can tell, Captura is one the very few companies that is doing carbon capture from ocean water," Xiang says. [Caltech story]

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Professor Goddard and Team Find the Simplest Form of a Catalyst


William A. Goddard, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, is part of research team which finds that an electron is the simplest form of a catalyst. A catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction by lowering the barriers from reactants to products. Traditionally, most catalysts contain transition metal as the source of activity. The most recent Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan for the discovery of pure organic compounds as catalyst for asymmetric organic synthesis. Is there any catalyst simpler than small organic compounds? Yes, in an article published in the latest edition of Nature, a team of Northwestern University and Caltech discovered that an electron itself can play the role of catalyst for the process of molecular recognition. [Nature Article]

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Professor Gao Receives IAMBE Early Career Award


Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar has been selected for the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE) Early Career Award (North America). The IAMBE is made up of fellows who are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the profession of medical and biological engineering. [List of Fellows]

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EAS Remembers Roy W. Gould


Roy W. Gould, Simon Ramo Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on February 19, 2022. He was 94 years old. Gould earned his bachelor's degree from Caltech in 1949, a master's from Stanford University in 1950, and a doctorate from Caltech in 1956. After leaving Stanford, he worked as an engineer on missile guidance and control at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, and then at Hughes Aircraft. He joined Caltech's faculty in 1955. Gould started as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, became Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1958, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics in 1960, and Professor in 1962. He was named Professor of Applied Physics in 1974 and became Ramo Professor of Engineering in 1980. He served as Executive Officer of Applied Physics from 1973–79 and Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1979–85. Gould's research focused on plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion. During his long career, Gould earned numerous awards and recognitions. [Caltech story]

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Chaining Atoms Together Yields Quantum Storage


Engineers at Caltech have developed an approach for quantum storage that could help pave the way for the development of large-scale optical quantum networks. "The ability to build a technology reproducibly and reliably is key to its success," says graduate student Andrei Ruskuc. "In the scientific context, this let us gain unprecedented insight into microscopic interactions between ytterbium qubits and the vanadium atoms in their environment." The new system relies on nuclear spins—the angular momentum of an atom's nucleus—oscillating collectively as a spin wave. This collective oscillation effectively chains up several atoms to store information. "Based on our previous work, single ytterbium ions were known to be excellent candidates for optical quantum networks, but we needed to link them with additional atoms. We demonstrate that in this work," says Andrei Faraon, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. [Read the paper] [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers Noel Corngold


Noel Corngold, Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus, passed away on January 24. He was 93 years old. Corngold was born in New York City in 1929. He received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1949; followed by his master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University in 1950 and 1954, respectively. He worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York for 12 years before joining Caltech's faculty in 1966. Corngold was a professor of applied science studying nuclear engineering until 1974, when he joined the newly created applied physics option. As a professor of applied physics, he extended his research to include radiation transport, plasma physics, and the statistical mechanics of fluids. As a nuclear engineer, he conducted award-winning theoretical work on how neutrons behave in reactors. He was elected to the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in 1966 and awarded a certificate of merit from the society's Reactor Physics Division for his "physical insight into neutronic problems." He received the society's Eugene P. Wigner Reactor Physics Award in 2002 and its Arthur Holly Compton Award in Education in 2006. Corngold became an emeritus professor in 2002. [Caltech story]

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Professor Mirhosseini Receives Okawa Foundation Research Grant


Mohammad Mirhosseini, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, has been selected as a recipient of 2021 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for developing optical interconnects for microwave quantum processors. [Research Grant Recipients]

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