News & Events


A Rainbow of Possibilities


Professor Andrei Faraon, graduate student Ehsan Arbabi, and their colleagues have developed a metasurface or a sheet of material that can be altered on demand to exhibit properties not usually found in natural materials. For example, materials engineered at the nanoscale can control the dispersion of light and could be the basis of next-generation spectrometers and other imaging devices. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Andrei Faraon Ehsan Arbabi

2017 Library Thesis Prize


Senior Daniel Lim has received the 2017 Library Friends' Senior Thesis Prize for his work on sculpting nanofilms with laser illumination. Lim's thesis, titled "Revolution in large-area curved surface lithography: Nanofilm sculpting by thermocapillary modulation," is based on experimental research he conducted over two years in the laboratory of Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering Sandra M. Troian. "Our group has been working on thermocapillary sculpting of nanofilms for several years now,” says Troian. "Daniel advanced this concept by demonstrating an inverse projection method, which imbues the sculpting process with far greater versatility. Daniel is an exceptional student—a rare combination of superb talent, tremendous drive, utmost professionalism, and entrepreneurial chops. " [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlights MCE Sandra Troian Daniel Lim

"Hot" Electrons Move Faster Than Expected


For the first time, Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have been able to directly observe the ultrafast motion of electrons immediately after they are excited with a laser—and found that these electrons diffuse into their surroundings much faster and farther than previously expected. "Our work shows the existence of a fast transient that lasts for a few hundred picoseconds, during which electrons move much faster than their room-temperature speed, implying that they can cover longer distances in a given time when manipulated with lasers," says Professor Bernardi. "This non-equilibrium behavior could be employed in novel electronic, optoelectronic, and renewable energy devices, as well as to uncover new fundamental physics." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Marco Bernardi

Observations Reshape Basic Plasma Wave Physics


Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics , and colleagues have discovered a new way to determine the wavelength of energy flowing through plasma in space—a method that was recently applied during a NASA mission that yielded the first solid evidence of how energy sloshes back and forth in a magnetic wave that moves through the plasma surrounding the earth. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Paul Bellan

New Materials Could Turn Water into the Fuel of the Future


Researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels. "The key advance made by the team was to combine the best capabilities enabled by theory and supercomputers with novel high throughput experiments to generate scientific knowledge at an unprecedented rate," says John Gregoire, JCAP thrust coordinator for Photoelectrocatalysis and leader of the High Throughput Experimentation group. [Caltech story]

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Engineers Create Artificial Skin That "Feels" Temperature Changes


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed an artificial skin capable of detecting temperature changes using a mechanism similar to the one used by the organ that allows pit vipers to sense their prey. [Caltech story]

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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: Paul Wennberg Kerry Vahala Christian Frankenberg APhMS ESE research highlights

The Future is Flat (For Lenses)


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: Andrei Faraon APhMS MedE research highlights

Building Better Batteries


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]

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Raising Temperature Changes an Element's Electronic "Topology"


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]

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Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science