Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Tools and Techniques to Track and Study Methane


Methane is less prevalent in the atmosphere than fellow greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), but it presents more difficult challenges for researchers attempting to study it. Professor Wennberg, is working with colleagues from across Caltech to study methane and its effects on the globe and to pioneer tools and techniques needed to identify, track, and characterize the gas and its sources. One such colleague is Professor Vahala who has paved the way for the miniaturization of high-resolution spectrometers. His new soliton-based system is the basis for a new collaboration with Professor Frankenberg to apply dual-comb spectrometer to methane tracking and analysis. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights ESE Paul Wennberg Kerry Vahala Christian Frankenberg

'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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST

From First Mile to Last Mile


Over his 47 year career, William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, has made seminal contributions to the theory and application of computational materials and molecular science which have led to numerous advances in diverse areas of science and engineering. In celebration of his career and 77th birthday his colleagues, students, and collaborators gathered at a celebration at Caltech entitled Bill Goddard and Computational Materials & Molecular Science: From First Mile to Last Mile. Special guests and speakers included Ares Rosakis, Carver Mead, Harry Gray, nobel laureate Rudolph Marcus and Sadasivan Shankar from Intel Corporation. [Tribute article about Professor Gaddard III]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Ares Rosakis William Goddard Carver Mead Harry Gray Rudolph Marcus

Celebrating 50 Years of the Argon Ion Laser


William Bridges, Carl F Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, discovered and patented the Argon ion laser on February 14, 1964, while at Hughes Research Laboratories. Today noble gas (argon, krypton, xenon) lasers are used in a variety of applications including DNA sequencers, cell sorters, eye surgery, and laser light shows. Professor Bridges' research work with lasers involved an airborne night reconnaissance system (AN/AVD-3), space communications systems, early high power laser weapons (the carbon dioxide gas dynamic laser), and hydrogen maser clocks for the global positioning system. He also holds the patent for the Ionized Noble Gas Laser. [Oral History of Prof. Bridges]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights EAS history William Bridges

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]

Tags: APhMS GALCIT EAS history ESE Francis Clauser

EAS Remembers Thad Vreeland Jr.


Thad Vreeland Jr., Professor of Materials Science, Emeritus, passed away on August 9th, 2010. "Thad was a great scientist and he interacted well with various researchers and engineers across campus," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, professor of mechanical engineering, and chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, "particularly with the solid mechanics group associated both with aeronautics and mechanical engineering." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS Thad Vreeland Jr. EAS history

EAS Remembers Thomas McGill


Thomas McGill, professor of applied physics, emeritus, passed away on March 19. An expert in nanostructures, he discovered how to stack silicon layers on chips in a way that could lead to significant new advances in silicon-based electronics. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS EAS history