Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Ceramics Don't Have To Be Brittle


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and her colleagues are on the path to developing materials that possess unheard-of combinations of properties. "Ceramics have always been thought to be heavy and brittle," says Professor Greer. "We're showing that in fact, they don't have to be either. This very clearly demonstrates that if you use the concept of the nanoscale to create structures and then use those nanostructures like LEGO to construct larger materials, you can obtain nearly any set of properties you want. You can create materials by design." [Caltech Release]

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Caltech Engineering Ranks High on U.S. News Best Grad Schools List


Caltech’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs have been ranked fourth in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Engineering graduate programs ranked very well with second in aerospace / aeronautical / astronautical, third in mechanical, third in applied math, fourth in electrical / electronic / communications, sixth in materials, and eight in environmental / environmental health. [All 2015 Caltech Rankings]

Tags: APhMS EE GALCIT MCE CMS ESE Graduate school rankings

Alumnus Receives Award from Council on Large Electric Systems


Alumnus Thales Papazoglou (MS ME ’70), who was advised by Professor Noel R. Corngold, has been awarded the Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) Technical Committee Award for his contribution in the area of system operation and control.  He was a Professor of Electric Power, and Director of Electric Power Systems Laboratory at the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Greece for 35 years.

Tags: APhMS honors alumni Thales Papazoglou Noel Corngold

Professor Atwater Receives Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, has received the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics for pioneering achievements in plasmonics and novel nanophotonic routes to ultrahigh-efficiency solar energy conversion. Professor Atwater’s scientific interests have two themes: plasmonics and optical metamaterials as well as photovoltaics and solar energy conversion. He is an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics, giving the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. The Julius Springer Prize is awarded annually to scientists who have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of applied physics. [Caltech Release] [Springer release]

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Fill Up Your Tank With Sunlight


The research of Sossina M. Haile, Carl F Braun Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, on water and carbon dioxide dissociation for solar-fuel generation (which is creating new avenues for harnessing sunlight to meet energy demands), was featured on PBS Newshour.

Tags: APhMS energy Sossina Haile

'Comb on a Chip' Powers New Atomic Clock Design


Scott Diddams who was a 2012 Caltech Moore Distinguished Scholar and is a Project Lead at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues including Professor Kerry Vahala have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale frequency comb, or a microcomb. The microcomb clock is the first demonstration of all-optical control of the microcomb, and its accurate conversion of optical frequencies to lower microwave frequencies. Caltech researchers made the 2-millimeter-wide silica disk that generates the frequency comb for the new clock. [NIST Press Release] [Learn More]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST Scott Diddams

Future Electronics May Depend on Lasers, Not Quartz


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics as well as the Executive Officer for APhMS, and colleagues have developed a method to stabilize microwave signals in the range of gigahertz, or billions of cycles per second—using a pair of laser beams as the reference, in lieu of a quartz crystal. "There are always tradeoffs between the highest performance, the smallest size, and the best ease of integration. But even in this first demonstration, these optical oscillators have many advantages; they are on par with, and in some cases even better than, what is available with widespread electronic technology," Vahala says. [Caltech Release]

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LMI-EFRC Awarded $15 Million DOE Funding


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is extending the funding to Caltech's Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion (LMI) program, one of 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) nationwide that will receive a combined $100 million over the next four years to pursue innovative energy research. [Caltech Press Release]

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Highly Cited


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—from the period 2002–2012 include EAS professors Harry Atwater, Richard Murray, Joel Tropp, John Seinfeld, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. Other Caltech professors were also among the top 1%—including Colin Camerer, Mark Davis, Richard Ellis, William Goddard, Robert Grubbs, Hiroo Kanamori, Jeff Kimble, John O’Doherty, and Charles Steidel. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields.  [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Richard Murray

Tricking the Uncertainty Principle


Keith Schwab, Professor of Applied Physics and the Fletcher Jones Foundation Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleagues have found a way to make measurements that go beyond the limits imposed by quantum physics. "Our mechanical device is a tiny square of aluminum—only 40 microns long, or about the diameter of a hair. We think of quantum mechanics as a good description for the behaviors of atoms and electrons and protons and all of that, but normally you don't think of these sorts of quantum effects manifesting themselves on somewhat macroscopic objects," Schwab says. "This is a physical manifestation of the uncertainty principle, seen in single photons impacting a somewhat macroscopic thing." [Caltech Release]

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