Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


'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

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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Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Keith Schwab

Professor Greer Named One of Most Creative People in 2014


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, has been named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in 2014. "What if you could fabricate nanotrusses--materials made up of tiny, intricate geometric structures linked together--in a way that might resemble, say, the webwork of the Eiffel Tower?" describes Professor Greer. [Fast Company release] [research highlight]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlights Julia Greer

Professor Faber Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Katherine T. Faber, who will be joining the Caltech faculty in July 2014 as the Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science, has been elected to the 2014 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class of fellows. Professor Faber's research focuses on understanding fracture and toughening of brittle materials such as those used for high-temperature coatings for power generation applications. [Caltech Release]

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Tags: APhMS honors Katherine Faber AAAS

Quantum Photon Properties Revealed in Another Particle—the Plasmon


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, and colleagues’ experiments have confirmed that two indistinguishable photons can be converted into two indistinguishable surface plasmons that, like photons, display quantum interference. This finding could be important for the development of quantum computing, says Atwater. "Remarkably, plasmons are coherent enough to exhibit quantum interference in waveguides," he says. "These plasmon waveguides can be integrated in compact chip-based devices and circuits, which may one day enable computation and measurement schemes based on quantum interference." [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Harry Atwater

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

Professor Greer Named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, has been selected as a 2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Each year the selection Committee, which is headed by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, identifies and recognizes the most distinguished leaders under the age of 40, nominated from around the world. Candidates are selected based on their proven track record of professional accomplishments, breadth of their expertise, commitment to society and their ability to overcome adversity. [List of 2014 Honourees]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE Julia Greer