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The Science of Sweat


Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, is interested in the future of personalized and precision medicine, and is engineering the next generation of wearable health monitors and nanomachines that could enable rapid and hyper-localized drug delivery and surgery. The sweatband health tracker he is developing is capable of studying health at a molecular level. By analyzing an individual’s sweat, the device can monitor dehydration levels as well as blood glucose levels in real time. [Caltech interview]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao

New Microchip Technology Could Be Used to Track Smart Pills


Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; and EAS Division Deputy Chair, along with her colleagues including Professor Mikhail Shapiro have developed microscale devices that relay their location in the body. "We wanted to make this chip very small with low power consumption, and that comes with a lot of engineering challenges," says Professor Emami. "We had to carefully balance the size of the device with how much power it consumes and how well its location can be pinpointed." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Azita Emami Mikhail Shapiro

Ultra-Thin Camera Creates Images Without Lenses


Professor Ali Hajimiri and colleagues have developed a new camera design that replaces the lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using large pieces of glass: it manipulates incoming light to capture an image. "Here, like most other things in life, timing is everything. With our new system, you can selectively look in a desired direction and at a very small part of the picture in front of you at any given time, by controlling the timing with femto-second—quadrillionth of a second—precision," says Professor Hajimiri. [Caltech story] [ENGenious silicon photonics feature]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Ali Hajimiri

Cutting Down on Cancer Surgeries


Engineers at the Optical Imaging Laboratory led by Professor Lihong Wang have developed an imaging technology that could help surgeons removing breast cancer lumps confirm that they have cut out the entire tumor—reducing the need for additional surgeries. “What if we could get rid of the waiting? With 3D photoacoustic microscopy, we could analyze the tumor right in the operating room, and know immediately whether more tissue needs to be removed,” Professor Wang explains. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang

Laser-Induced Sound Waves Provide Live Panoramic Views of Tissue Functions


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, and colleagues are now able to take a live look at the inner workings of a small animal with enough resolution to see active organs, flowing blood, circulating melanoma cells, and firing neural networks. "Photoacoustic tomography combines light and sound synergistically for high-resolution imaging of molecular contrast," says Professor Wang. [Caltech story] [Read the paper]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang

Black Silicon Prevents Eye Implant from Gumming Up


Hyuck Choo, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute, and colleagues have developed an eye implant for glaucoma patients that could one day lead to more timely and effective treatment. Professor Choo has developed a passive system that eschews electronics and so needs no batteries and has no antennae. At just 600–800 micrometers in diameter, the sensor is the width of a few strands of hair. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Hyuck Choo

Seeing Deeper: An Interview with Lihong Wang


Using a combination of light and sound, Professor Lihong Wang is noninvasively peering deeper inside biological tissues than previously possible. His team uses three-dimensional photoacoustic microscopy and functional photoacoustic computed tomography to generate detailed color images of tumors and other structures inside the body. [Interview with Prof. Wang]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang

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: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer

Noise-Canceling Optics


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Medical Engineering, and colleagues have created the visual analogue of noise-canceling headphones—a camera system that can obtain images of objects obscured by murky media, such as fog or clouds, by canceling out the glare. Their device selectively cancels the scattered light, leaving only the light that is reflected or bounced off the objects and has slipped back through the murk unmolested. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights Changhuei Yang MedE