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Popping Microbubbles Help Focus Light Inside the Body


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Medical Engineering, and his postdoctoral colleague Dr. Haowen Ruan have developed a novel technique called time-reversed ultrasound microbubble encoded (TRUME) that uses gas-filled microbubbles to focus light inside tissue. "Ultrasound and X-ray techniques can only detect cancer after it forms a mass," Yang says. "But with optical focusing, you could catch cancerous cells while they are undergoing biochemical changes but before they undergo morphological changes." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE Changhuei Yang MedE health research highlight

Sensors to Simplify Diabetes Management


As part of their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) projects, several engineering students have contributed to the development of tiny biosensors that could one day eliminate the need for manual blood sugar tests. The students were advised by Caltech medical engineering faculty Axel Scherer, and Hyuck Choo. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious MedE Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer Hyuck Choo

From Lab-on-a-Chip to Lab-in-the-Body


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, will be giving the next Caltech Earnest C. Watson Lecture on November 6, 2013 at 8pm. His lecture is entitled From Lab-on-a-Chip to Lab-in-the-Body and will focus on the role of nanotechnology in the miniaturization of medical diagnostic tools. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Article]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer

Made-to-Order Materials


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have created nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that the small building blocks, or unit cells, display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air. The general fabrication technique the researchers have developed could be used to produce lightweight, mechanically robust small-scale components such as batteries, interfaces, catalysts, and implantable biomedical devices. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights MedE health MCE Julia Greer

Pushing Microscopy Beyond Standard Limits


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have shown how to make cost-effective, ultra-high-performance microscopes. The final images produced by their new system contain 100 times more information than those produced by conventional microscope platforms. And building upon a conventional microscope, their new system costs only about $200 to implement. This new method could have wide applications not only in digital pathology but also in everything from hematology to wafer inspection to forensic photography. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE Changhuei Yang MedE health research highlight

Counting White Blood Cells at Home


Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a portable device to count white blood cells that needs less than a pinprick's worth of blood and takes just minutes to run. The heart of the new device is a 50-micrometer-long transparent channel made out of a silicone material with a cross section of only 32 micrometers by 28 micrometers—small enough to ensure that only one white blood cell at a time can flow through the detection region. The stained blood sample flows through this microfluidic channel to the detection region, where it is illuminated with a laser, causing it to fluoresce. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE

Disease Diagnosis at the Touch of a Button


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, and colleagues have built a new version of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, which generates many copies of a pathogenic nucleic acid, allowing the infection to be detected. The device is the result of nearly 10 years of research at Caltech. In 2004, Scherer, a leader in the field of microfluidics, and George Maltezos were investigating how to manipulate biological fluids on a chip. While this was an interesting engineering problem, Maltezos began to wonder how he could apply the microfluidic techniques that he was perfecting to real-world problems. Then the H5N1 bird flu pandemic erupted in Asia, and the team had their real-world problem. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer George Maltezos

A New Tool for Secret Agents—And the Rest of Us


Ali Hajimiri, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Postdoctoral Scholar in Electrical Engineering, Kaushik Sengupta, have developed tiny inexpensive silicon microchips that generate terahertz (THz) waves that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays. When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. "This extraordinary level of creativity, which has enabled imaging in the terahertz frequency range, is very much in line with Caltech's long tradition of innovation in the area of CMOS technology," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "Caltech engineers, like Ali Hajimiri, truly work in an interdisciplinary way to push the boundaries of what is possible." [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights MedE health Ali Hajimiri Kaushik Sengupta

3-D Dentistry


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering as well as Caltech Vice Provost, has designed a handheld device, that has three apertures which take a picture of the tooth at the same time, but from different angles. The three images are then blended together using a computer algorithm to construct a 3-D image. His imaging innovation will ease your trip to the dentist and may soon energize home entertainment systems too. "Professor Gharib is as brilliant a scientist as he is an engineer and inventor," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "I think that's what we have to do to look at humanity's big problems: we have to be ready to act as pure scientists when we observe and discover as well as act as practical engineers when we invent and apply. This continuous interplay happens at Caltech better than at other institutions." [Caltech Release]

Tags: GALCIT MedE health Morteza Gharib

Progress for Paraplegics


Joel W. Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, are developing new technologies to expand their research which has enabled a paraplegic man to stand and move his legs voluntarily. The team has until now used intelligent guesswork to determine which stimuli might work best. But soon, using a new algorithm developed by Professor Burdick, they will be able to rely on a computer to determine the optimum stimulation levels, based on the patient's response to previous stimuli. This would allow patients to go home after the extensive rehab process with a system that could be continually adjusted by computer. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Progress Report]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE Joel Burdick