Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Kerry Vahala Receives MPQ Distinguished Scholar Award


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, receives the MPQ Distinguished Scholar award in recognition of his "pioneering scientific work in the field of nonlinear optics and photonics with microresonators." The award is presented to particularly outstanding scientists on the recommendation of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) Board of Directors. 

Tags: APhMS honors Kerry Vahala

Beaming Clean Energy From Space


Once considered science fiction, technology capable of collecting solar power in space and beaming it to Earth to provide a global supply of clean and affordable energy is moving closer to reality. Through the Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP), a team of Caltech researchers is working to deploy a constellation of modular spacecraft that collect sunlight, transform it into electricity, then wirelessly transmit that electricity wherever it is needed—including to places that currently have no access to reliable power. "This is an extraordinary and unprecedented project," says 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. "It exemplifies the boldness and ambition needed to address one of the most significant challenges of our time, providing clean and affordable energy to the world." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE MCE Harry Atwater Ali Hajimiri Sergio Pellegrino

New Photonic Chip "Squeezes" More out of Light


Electronic computing and communications have come a very long way since the days of radio telegraphy and vacuum tubes, with consumer devices now containing levels of processing power and memory that would be unimaginable just a few decades ago. "The quality of the quantum states we have achieved surpasses the requirements for quantum information processing, which used to be the territory of bulky experimental setups," says Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Alireza Marandi

Mimicking Termites to Generate New Materials


Inspired by the way termites build their nests, researchers at Caltech have developed a framework to design new materials that mimic the fundamental rules hidden in nature's growth patterns. "We thought that by understanding how a termite contributes to the nest's fabrication, we could define simple rules for designing architected materials with unique mechanical properties," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE

A Quantitative Snapshot of the Human Impact on the Planet


Caltech researchers have developed a database containing global data on how humans have impacted the planet. The Human Impacts Database is designed to be accessible to scientists, policymakers, and everyday citizens. "In my view, the root to understanding is numeracy: once you have the numbers, it becomes clear what the problems are, which things are significant, and which things are less so," says Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights alumni Rob Phillips Griffin Chure Rachel Banks

Nano-Architected Materials Offer New Frontier in Technology


For the past two decades, Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has been at the forefront of creating new materials whose structures are designed and controlled at the smallest level, giving them unusual and useful properties. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS MedE MCE Julia Greer alumni Carlos M. Portela

Unusual Superconductivity Observed in Twisted Trilayer Graphene


The ability to turn superconductivity off and on with a literal flip of a switch in so-called "magic-angle twisted graphene" has allowed engineers to observe an unusual phenomenon that may shed new light on superconductivity in general. "While superconductors have been around for a long time, a remarkably new feature in twisted graphene bilayers and trilayers is that superconductivity in these materials can be turned on simply through the application of a voltage on a nearby electrode," says Stevan Nadj-Perge, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Stevan Nadj-Perge Hyunjin Kim Youngjoon Choi Cyprian Lewandowski Alex Thomson Yiran Zhang Robert Polski Kenji Watanabe Takashi Taniguchi Jason Alicea

Winners of the 2022 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced


The student winners of the 2022 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at the end of this academic year. Ida Qin, advised by Professor Joel Burdick has received the prize in Biotechnology. Her research is in comprehensive temporal understanding and state estimation during robot-assisted surgery. Alan Gu, advised by Professor Michael R. Hoffmann has received the prize in Entrepreneurship. His research is in capturing CO2 at point emission sources to accelerate reaching a goal of carbon neutrality. Joeson Wong, advised by Professor Harry A. Atwater has received the prize in Nanotechnology. His research is focused on the optoelectronic physics and engineering of atomically thin photovoltaics. Fengyu Zhou, advised by Professor Steven Low has received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources. His research involves the global optimality and relaxation exactness of the Optimal Power Flow problem in single-phase and multi-phase networks. Stacy Larochelle, advised by Professor Jean-Philippe Avouac and Professor Nadia Lapusta has received the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. Her research uses geodesy, data analysis and modeling to further the understanding of mechanical interactions between water and the solid Earth, from fluid-induced earthquakes to groundwater extraction.

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Nadia Lapusta Jean-Philippe Avouac Steven Low Joel Burdick Ida Qin Stacy Larochelle Fengyu Zhou

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


The course combines topical lectures that give the students a preview of what they will be doing in the cleanroom along with hands-on practical training. Both components are conducted as a team effort between Scherer and the KNI technical staff. The first two lectures of the term were presented by KNI’s microscopist, Dr. Annalena Wolff, who lectured on scanning electron and focused ion beam microscopy. Additional lectures were presented by KNI’s Associate Director of Technical Operations, Dr. Guy DeRose, on electron beam lithography.

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Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE Axel Scherer KNI Changsoon Choi Paromita Mitchell Annalena Wolff Guy DeRose Bert Mendoza Alex Wertheim Kelly McKenzie

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]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Alireza Marandi James Williams Midya Parto