News & Events


Inaugural Centers Announced for the Materials Genome Initiative


William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, will be the Caltech Principle Investigator for one of U.S. Department of Energy’s inaugural centers for the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). The initiative was launched by the White House to “help businesses discover, develop, and deploy new materials twice as fast.” The three inaugural centers are receiving $8 million to “integrate theory and computation with experiment and provide the materials community with advanced tools and techniques in support of the MGI.” Professor Goddard and colleagues will be working on the Computational Synthesis of Materials Software Project with the goal of developing the next-generation of methods and software to predict and control materials processes at the level of electrons. [Learn more]

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Atomic Fractals in Metallic Glasses


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues including graduate student David Chen have shown that metallic glasses has an atomic-level structure although it differs from the periodic lattices that characterize crystalline metals. "Our group has solved this paradox by showing that atoms are only arranged fractally up to a certain scale," Greer says. "Larger than that scale, clusters of atoms are packed randomly and tightly, making a fully dense material, just like a regular metal. So we can have something that is both fractal and fully dense." [Caltech story]

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Highly Cited Researchers


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—include EAS professors Harry Atwater, William Goddard, Babak Hassibi, Joel Tropp, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields. [Detailed information on the methodology]

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Professor Bernardi Wins the Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has won the 2015 Psi-K Volker Heine Young Investigator Award. The award is given in recognition of an individual’s outstanding computational work in condensed-matter, materials, or nanoscience research involving electronic structure calculations. Professor Bernardi has received it for his research in first principles electronic structure calculations of the ultrafast dynamics of excited electrons in materials. His research is addressing the question of “how does an excited electron lose its energy?” which is central in a variety of fields ranging from condensed matter physics to electrical engineering and energy. Bernardi has developed and applied calculations to study the dynamics of out-of-equilibrium charge carriers, also known as hot carriers, in semiconductors and metals. [Learn more]

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New, Ultrathin Optical Devices Shape Light in Exotic Ways


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created silicon nanopillars devices capable of manipulating light in ways that are very difficult or impossible to achieve with conventional optical components. The devices are precisely arranged into a honeycomb pattern to create a "metasurface" that can control the paths and properties of passing light waves. Professor Faraon describes, "this new technology is very similar to the one used to print semiconductor chips onto silicon wafers, so you could conceivably manufacture millions of systems such as microscopes or cameras at a time." [Caltech story] [BBC video clip]

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Seeing Quantum Motion


Keith Schwab, Professor of Applied Physics, has found a way to observe and control the quantum motion of an object that is large enough to see. Schwab's group has learned how to cool the motion of small micrometer-scale objects to produce the quantum ground state. This quantum motion is theoretically an intrinsic part of the motion of all objects. Schwab and his colleagues designed a device that would allow them to observe this quantum motion and then manipulate it. The ability to control quantum noise could one day be used to improve the precision of very sensitive measurements, such as those designed to search for signs of gravitational waves. [Caltech Story]

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Professor Fultz to Receive William Hume-Rothery Award


Brent Fultz, Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, has been named by the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) as the recipient of the 2016 William Hume-Rothery Award. He is receiving the award for “his groundbreaking contributions to the thermodynamics of materials.” This pinnacle award recognizes a scientific leader for exceptional scholarly contributions to the science of alloys. Professor Fultz will also be an honored presenter at the William Hume-Rothery Memorial Symposium held in conjunction with the TMS Annual Meeting.

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Professors Rosakis and Daraio Honored by Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM)


Ares J. Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, is the 2015 recipient of the Sia Nemat-Nasser Medal “for innovative singular theoretical and experimental contributions in dynamic fracture and optical techniques, and their application to rupture faults.” The Sia Nemat-Nasser Medal is awarded by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM) and recognizes an individual for distinguished, innovative, and outstanding work that has realized the impact of experimental mechanics on other scientific and engineering fields through an integrated multidisciplinary research. Professor Rosakis received the award at the 2015 SEM annual conference. At the same event Professor Chiara Daraio and colleagues received the 2015 M. Hetényi Award for best research paper published in Experimental Mechanics. Furthermore, EAS alumnus Hugh Bruck became a 2015 fellow and EAS alumnus John Lambros received the M.M. Frocht Award.

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121st Commencement Ceremony


Caltech’s 121st commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 12, 2015. The commencement speaker was cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell, an expert on the intersection of culture and technology. She reminded the graduates that it is the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law which she referred to as a bold statement of engineering and a promise about the state of the future. She asked the graduates to not only bring their technical skills to the table, but also their humanity and obligation to make the work a better place. [View Dr. Bell’s commencement address]

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New Thin, Flat Lenses Focus Light as Sharply as Curved Lenses


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have created flat microlenses with performance on a par with conventional, curved lenses. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. The Caltech team’s new flat lenses focus as much as 82 percent of infrared light passing through them. By comparison, previous studies have found that metallic flat lenses have efficiencies of only around a few percent. [Caltech story]

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Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science