Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

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Highlights

Moriah Bischann Wins SURF Speaking Competition

02-04-16

Material science undergraduate student Moriah Bischann, mentored by aerospace postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Owen Kingstedt, is the winner of the Doris S. Perpall Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Speaking Competition. She was recognized as the best speakers-out of the 200 students who presented their SURF research. Her summer research focused on exploring the next generation of structural materials. During her ten week SURF project she studied the effects of alloying and processing on the dynamic behavior of magnesium (Mg). This work was done to address the larger question of whether Mg is a useful material for the automotive, aerospace, energy, and defense industries where a material is needed that has low density, but also the strength to withstand high impact forces.

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Tags: APhMS honors GALCIT research highlight Moriah Bischann Owen Kingstedt

Novel Calibration Tool Will Help Astronomers

01-27-16

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a novel calibration tool, called a laser frequency comb, which could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. The comb produces easily resolvable lines, without any need for filtering and is built from off-the-shelf components developed by the telecommunications industry. "We have demonstrated an alternative approach that is simple, reliable, and relatively inexpensive," says Professor Vahala. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala

Microscopic Materials

01-14-16

Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, is fascinated by the interactions of quasiparticles and how they give rise to the world around us. He explains, “I'm most excited about the emphasis on fundamental science here. People can be really tempted by "flashy" science or experiments on hot topics. But to compute what I'm trying to look at, we have to first build our understanding on simple experiments and materials—boring things—before we are able to tackle materials at the frontier of condensed matter research.” [Interview with Prof. Bernardi]

Tags: APhMS research highlight Marco Bernardi

Full Circle Physics

10-20-15

Dive into the thinking of several Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) researchers including Oskar J. Painter, John G Braun Professor of Applied Physics and Fletcher Jones Foundation Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, to learn more about the frontiers of quantum science, the role IQIM plays in exploring that frontier, and the question oft thought but rarely spoken: Why should we care? [E&S article]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Oskar Painter

Inaugural Centers Announced for the Materials Genome Initiative

10-05-15

William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, will be the Caltech Principle Investigator for one of U.S. Department of Energy’s inaugural centers for the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). The initiative was launched by the White House to “help businesses discover, develop, and deploy new materials twice as fast.” The three inaugural centers are receiving $8 million to “integrate theory and computation with experiment and provide the materials community with advanced tools and techniques in support of the MGI.” Professor Goddard and colleagues will be working on the Computational Synthesis of Materials Software Project with the goal of developing the next-generation of methods and software to predict and control materials processes at the level of electrons. [Learn more]

Tags: APhMS research highlights William Goddard

Atomic Fractals in Metallic Glasses

09-18-15

Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues including graduate student David Chen have shown that metallic glasses has an atomic-level structure although it differs from the periodic lattices that characterize crystalline metals. "Our group has solved this paradox by showing that atoms are only arranged fractally up to a certain scale," Greer says. "Larger than that scale, clusters of atoms are packed randomly and tightly, making a fully dense material, just like a regular metal. So we can have something that is both fractal and fully dense." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer David Chen

Highly Cited Researchers

09-11-15

The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—include EAS professors Harry Atwater, William Goddard, Babak Hassibi, Joel Tropp, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields. [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS EE honors Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg William Goddard Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Babak Hassibi

Professor Bernardi Wins the Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award

09-11-15

Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has won the 2015 Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award. The award is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding computational work in condensed-matter, materials, or nanoscience research involving electronic structure calculations. Professor Bernardi has received it for his research in first principles electronic structure calculations of the ultrafast dynamics of excited electrons in materials. His research is addressing the question of “how does an excited electron lose its energy?” which is central in a variety of fields ranging from condensed matter physics to electrical engineering and energy. Bernardi has developed and applied calculations to study the dynamics of out-of-equilibrium charge carriers, also known as hot carriers, in semiconductors and metals. [Learn more]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlight Marco Bernardi

New, Ultrathin Optical Devices Shape Light in Exotic Ways

09-03-15

Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created silicon nanopillars devices capable of manipulating light in ways that are very difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional optical components. The devices are precisely arranged into a honeycomb pattern to create a "metasurface" that can control the paths and properties of passing light waves. Professor Faraon describes, "this new technology is very similar to the one used to print semiconductor chips onto silicon wafers, so you could conceivably manufacture millions of systems such as microscopes or cameras at a time." [Caltech story] [BBC video clip]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

Seeing Quantum Motion

08-31-15

Keith Schwab, Professor of Applied Physics, has found a way to observe and control the quantum motion of an object that is large enough to see. Schwab's group has learned how to cool the motion of small micrometer-scale objects to produce the quantum ground state. This quantum motion is theoretically an intrinsic part of the motion of all objects. Schwab and his colleagues designed a device that would allow them to observe this quantum motion and then manipulate it. The ability to control quantum noise could one day be used to improve the precision of very sensitive measurements, such as those designed to search for signs of gravitational waves. [Caltech Story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Keith Schwab