Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

News & Events


Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have developed the world’s lightest solid material, with a density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. The new material, called a micro-lattice, relies, on a lattice architecture: tiny hollow tubes made of nickel-phosphorous are angled to connect at nodes, forming repeating, asterisklike unit cells in three dimensions. "We're entering a new era of materials science where material properties are determined not only by the microscopic makeup of the material but also by the architecture of the constituents," Greer says. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Julia Greer

Using DNA to Manufacture Nanoscale Devices


William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, has received $1.25 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a process that takes advantage of DNA's talent for self-assembly to arrange nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and proteins into configurations designed for use in devices such as sensors, transistors, and optical components. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS research highlights health William Goddard NSF

An Incredible Shrinking Material


Graduate student, Chen Li, and colleagues including Brent Fultz,  Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, have shown how scandium trifluoride (ScF3) contracts with heat.  "A pure quartic oscillator is a lot of fun," Professor Fultz says. "Now that we've found a case that's very pure, I think we know where to look for it in many other materials." Understanding quartic oscillator behavior will help engineers design materials with unusual thermal properties. "In my opinion," Fultz says, "that will be the biggest long-term impact of this work." [Caltech Press Release] [Nature Article]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Brent Fultz Chen Li

Number One Engineering and Technology University


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

New Institute for Quantum Information and Matter


Caltech has been awarded $12.6 million in funding by the National Science Foundation to create the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM), the center will bring physicists and computer scientists together to push theoretical and experimental boundaries in the study of exotic quantum states.  The co-directors of this institute are Professors Jeff Kimble, Jim Eisenstein, Oskar Painter, and John Preskill. "When you bring innovative scientists and engineers together and provide them with the facilities and collaborative spaces they need, magic happens. The magic involves transforming the way we think about and impact our world," says EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS CMS Oskar Painter Ares Rosakis John Preskill Jim Eisenstein

Fueling Fundamental Research


To strengthen fundamental science and technology and foster transformational advances in renewable energies, the Dow Chemical Company and Caltech have established a $10 million partnership. Under the partnership, Dow will provide ongoing support for graduate student research through endowed fellowships which include five in energy science. The Resnick Sustainability Institute is receiving a significant portion of the funding in the agreement. Through the new Dow Chemical Company Bridge/CI2 Innovation Program, financial support will be used to further promising graduate and postdoc research that has the possibility of creating licensable technologies and start-ups. The graduate research fellowships in energy—renewable for up to two years—will help advance clean-energy goals. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy Resnick Dow

Professor Daraio Named Young Investigator Lecturer by SEM


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has been named the 2012 Journal of Strain Analysis (JSA) Young Investigator Lecturer by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM). This award recognizes an SEM member in early to mid-career who demonstrates considerable potential in the field of experimental mechanics. The selection is a public statement by their professional peers of the quality and impact of the contributions that they have made thus far in their career.

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Professor Greer Receives Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, has been selected by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Materials Division Executive Committee to receive the 2011 Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award for her research contributions in “physical origins of size-dependent mechanical properties in nano-scale solids”.

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Using Laser Light to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics and Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues including graduate student Jasper Chan have cooled a miniature mechanical object—a tiny mechanical silicon beam— to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors. "In many ways, the experiment we've done provides a starting point for the really interesting quantum-mechanical experiments one wants to do," Painter says. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Oskar Painter Jasper Chan

Solar Decathlon Team


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), placed 6th at the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. In the category of Energy Balance we tied for first place; in the categories of engineering and home entertainment, we placed 2nd, and in affordability we placed third. [Final scores and photos] [Walkthrough video of CHIP]

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Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater CMS Richard Murray Solar Decathlon