Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Applied Physics

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Highlights

Tools and Techniques to Track and Study Methane

01-19-17

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

The Future is Flat (For Lenses)

12-22-16

Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a system of flat optical lenses that can be easily mass-produced and integrated with image sensors, paving the way for cheaper and lighter cameras in everything from cell phones to medical devices. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

Building Better Batteries

12-19-16

Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have measured for the first time the strength of lithium metal at the nano- and microscale, a discovery with important implications for suppressing dendrite formation and improving lithium-ion batteries.  [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer

Professor Johnson Elected to National Academy of Inventors

12-13-16

William L. Johnson, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). His research includes early pioneering work with metallic materials such as bulk metallic glasses, non-crystalline metals with an amorphous atomic structure and unusual engineering properties. Election as an NAI fellow is an honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have "demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society." [Caltech story] [NAI release]

Tags: APhMS honors William Johnson

Professor Yariv Elected to National Academy of Inventors

12-13-16

Amnon Yariv, Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Electrical Engineering , has been named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). His research has focused on creating the mathematical tools and building blocks underpinning guided wave optics, the backbone of today's optoelectronic technologies. This endeavor led to the proposal and demonstration of the distributed feedback laser and started the field of optoelectronic integrated circuits. Election as an NAI fellow is an honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have "demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society." [Caltech story] [NAI release]

Tags: Amnon Yariv APhMS EE honors

Raising Temperature Changes an Element's Electronic "Topology"

10-27-16

Brent Fultz, Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, and colleagues have discovered a new way that heat tweaks the physical properties of a material. The potential value to engineers lies in the fact that it is much easier to raise the temperature of a material than it is to place it under the sort of pressure needed to force an electronic topological transition. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Brent Fultz

Professor Atwater Elected APS Fellow

10-11-16

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) “for pioneering contributions to plasmonics and nanophotonics.” [APS Fellow Archive]

Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater

New Breed of Optical Soliton Wave Discovered

09-06-16

Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics, and colleagues have discovered a new type of optical soliton wave that travels in the wake of other soliton waves, hitching a ride on and feeding off of the energy of the other wave. Solitons are localized waves that act like particles. Professor Vahala likens these newly discovered solitons to pilot fish, carnivorous tropical fish that swim next to a shark so they can pick up scraps from the shark's meals. And by swimming in the shark's wake, the pilot fish reduce the drag of water on their own body, so they can travel with less effort. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala

Professor Bhattacharya Named Vice Provost

07-14-16

On July 15, 2016, Kaushik Bhattacharya, Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science, will take over from Professor Morteza Gharib as Caltech vice provost. His research group studies the mechanical behavior of solids and uses theory to guide the development of new materials. He has made contributions on a wide array of topics, ranging from the fundamental mechanics of materials, to active materials and devices, to multi-scale and multi-physics scale simulation of materials. Though trained as a theoretician, he is well known for live demonstrations of shape-memory materials in action.  "Kaushik's technical strength, deep knowledge of the Institute, energy, and enthusiasm will serve him and us well as he takes on this important role," said EAS Division Chair G. (Ravi) Ravichandran. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS MCE Kaushik Bhattacharya

122nd Commencement Ceremony

06-10-16

Caltech’s 122nd commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 10, 2016. The commencement speaker was surgeon, writer, and public health researcher Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. He reminded the graduates that, “today, you become part of the scientific community, arguably the most powerful collective enterprise in human history. In doing so, you also inherit a role in explaining it and helping it reclaim territory of trust at a time when that territory has been shrinking.” He also cautioned them and explained, “the mistake … is to believe that the educational credentials you get today give you any special authority on truth. What you have gained is far more important: an understanding of what real truth-seeking looks like. It is the effort not of a single person but of a group of people—the bigger the better—pursuing ideas with curiosity, inquisitiveness, openness, and discipline.” [The Mistrust of Science]

Tags: Commencement Atul Gawande