Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events

Highlights

Beaming Clean Energy From Space

10-26-22

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

Minqiang Wang Receives Baxter Young Investigator Award

09-02-22

Minqiang Wang, Postdoctoral Scholar Research Associate in Medical Engineering, working with Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar, has received a first-tier Baxter Young Investigator Award for his work on wearable biosensors for precision nutrition. Baxter's Young Investigator Awards seek to stimulate and reward research applicable to the development of therapies and medical products that save and sustain patients' lives. [Past Winners]

Tags: honors MedE Wei Gao postdocs Minqiang Wang

Nano-Architected Materials Offer New Frontier in Technology

07-27-22

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

Artificial Skin Gives Robots Sense of Touch and Beyond

06-02-22

A new artificial skin can now give robots the ability to sense temperature, pressure, and even toxic chemicals through a simple touch. The multimodal robotic-sensing platform, dubbed M-Bot, was developed in the lab of Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar. It aims to give humans more precise control over robots while also protecting the humans from potential hazards. "I think we have shown a proof of concept," says Gao. "But we want to improve the stability of this robotic skin to make it last longer. By optimizing new inks and new materials, we hope this can be used for different kinds of targeted detections. We want to put it on more powerful robots and make them smarter, more intelligent." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao You Yu Jiahong Li Samuel Solomon Jihong Min Changhao Xu Jiaobing Tu Yu Song

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

05-27-22

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

A Science Journey with Fernando Villafuerte

04-26-22

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer Fernando Villafuerte

Professor Gao Receives IAMBE Early Career Award

03-08-22

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]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE Wei Gao

Chaining Atoms Together Yields Quantum Storage

02-17-22

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]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE KNI Andrei Faraon Andrei Ruskuc

Nano-architected Material Refracts Light Backward—An Important Step Toward One Day Creating Photonic Circuits

02-01-22

A newly created nano-architected material exhibits a property that previously was just theoretically possible: it can refract light backward, regardless of the angle at which the light strikes the material. "Negative refraction is crucial to the future of nanophotonics, which seeks to understand and manipulate the behavior of light when it interacts with materials or solid structures at the smallest possible scales," says 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. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Harry Atwater Julia Greer Victoria Chernow Siying Peng Ryan Ng

New Caltech Center for Sensing to Intelligence (S2I) Launches Collaboration with Industry Partner

12-02-21

The Caltech Center for Sensing to Intelligence (S2I) has announced that, in collaboration with Rockley Photonics, a photonics-based health monitoring and communications solutions company, it will allocate $1.5 million in research grants over the next three years to jumpstart efforts to combine sensors with artificial intelligence. "We would like to have sensors in every device these days, generating a huge amount of data," says Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and the director of S2I. "But it's difficult to extract the most important information from the mountains of data they create." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE Changhuei Yang MedE CMS Azita Emami CNS Animashree Anandkumar Alireza Marandi Katie Bouman