Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Professor Clauser Passes Away


Francis H. Clauser, Clark Blanchard Millikan Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, March 3, at 99 years of age. Professor Clauser, a Caltech alumnus (PhD '37), served as Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1969 to 1974. Upon stepping down as Chair he remained the Millikan Professor until his retirement. Although he retired in 1980, he maintained a vital presence on the Caltech campus, particularly at the Athenaeum round table, until shortly before he passed. [Caltech Release]

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Disease Diagnosis at the Touch of a Button


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, and colleagues have built a new version of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, which generates many copies of a pathogenic nucleic acid, allowing the infection to be detected. The device is the result of nearly 10 years of research at Caltech. In 2004, Scherer, a leader in the field of microfluidics, and George Maltezos were investigating how to manipulate biological fluids on a chip. While this was an interesting engineering problem, Maltezos began to wonder how he could apply the microfluidic techniques that he was perfecting to real-world problems. Then the H5N1 bird flu pandemic erupted in Asia, and the team had their real-world problem. [Caltech Release]

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Creating New Quantum Building Blocks


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have laid the groundwork for an on-chip optical quantum network by showing that defects in diamond can be used as quantum building blocks that interact with one another via photons. "Right now we only have one nitrogen-vacancy center that's emitting photons, but in the future we envision creating multiple nitrogen-vacancy centers that emit photons on the same chip," Faraon says. [Caltech Release]

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Diving Into the Unknown: An Interview with Andrei Faraon


Assistant Professor and alumnus Andrei Faraon builds devices that are based on the fundamentals of light–matter interaction. He is trying to manipulate single quantum systems in solids—systems like single atoms or single quantum dots—using light. Light is great for this purpose because it allows him to address these systems without destroying their fragile quantum states, and because it can easily interconnect quantum systems over large distances. [Caltech Interview]

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Professor Greer Receives NASA Research Grant and Early Career Awards


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, is among a select group of 10 recipients of NASA's inaugural Space Technology Research Opportunities Early Career Faculty grants. She has also received the 2013 Early Career Faculty Fellow award from the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) and the Young Investigator's Medal from the Society of Engineering Science (SES). Congratulations Professor Greer! [Caltech Release]

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Developing the Next Generation of Microsensors


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science; and Co-Director, Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleagues have engineered a microscale optical accelerometer. In addition to transforming consumer electronics, such sensors could help with oil and gas exploration deep within the earth, could improve the stabilization systems of fighter jets, and could even be used in some biomedical applications where more traditional sensors cannot operate. "Professor Painter's research in this area nicely illustrates how the Engineering and Applied Science faculty at Caltech are working at the edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Release]

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Number One Engineering and Technology University


For the third year the Times Higher Education world university rankings has ranked Caltech as number one in engineering and technology. [View Rankings] [Caltech Feature]

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Professor Greer Receives Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics magazine


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, is receiving a 2012 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics magazine as part of the team that engineered the world's lightest solid material. "I am delighted that Professor Greer is being honored with this award," says Ares Rosakis, chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) at Caltech. "She is a great example of how we in EAS are working at the edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future." [Caltech Release]

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Weighing Molecules One at a Time


Michael L. Roukes, Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering as well as Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleagues have created the first-ever mechanical device that measures the mass of a single molecule. The device—which is only a couple millionths of a meter in size—consists of a tiny, vibrating bridge-like structure. When a particle or molecule lands on the bridge, its mass changes the oscillating frequency in a way that reveals how much the particle weighs. [Caltech Press Release]

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Solar Loops and Space Weather


Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics, and colleagues have reproduced plasma loops in the laboratory to help understand solar physics. "We're studying how these solar loops work, which contributes to the knowledge of space weather," says Professor Bellan, who compares the research to studying hurricanes. For example, you can't predict a hurricane unless you know more about the events that precede it, like high-pressure and low-pressure fronts. The same is true for solar flares. "It takes some time for the plasma to get to Earth from the sun, so it's possible that with more research, we could have up to a two-day warning period for massive solar flares." [Caltech Release] [E&S Article]

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