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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

Noise-Canceling Optics

10-10-16

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

Your Future is Calling

10-03-16

Professor Morteza Gharib was one of the speakers at a recent symposium celebrating the Caltech–City of Hope Biomedical Research Initiative which provides seed grants to accelerate the development of basic scientific research and its translation into biomedical applications. Professor Gharib’s presentation was focused on measuring the ejection fraction, the fraction of blood that is ejected from the heart with each heartbeat. The group has designed a small piece of hardware that can connect to an iPhone and calculate a patient's ejection fraction—for less than $8. The device, called Vivio, gives comparable results to a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, the gold standard in the medical industry for measuring heart health. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

Tiny Diatoms Boast Enormous Strength

02-08-16

Researchers in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, have recently found that diatom shells have the highest specific strength—the strength at which a structure breaks with respect to its density—of any known biological material, including bone, antlers, and teeth. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer

Atomic Fractals in Metallic Glasses

09-18-15

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer David Chen

New, Ultrathin Optical Devices Shape Light in Exotic Ways

09-03-15

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

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

05-08-15

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]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Andrei Faraon

Bending the Light with a Tiny Chip

03-10-14

Ali Hajimiri, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new light-bending silicon chip that acts as a lens-free projector--and could one day end up in your cell phone. They were able to bypass traditional optics by manipulating the coherence of light—a property that allows the researchers to "bend" the light waves on the surface of the chip without lenses or the use of any mechanical movement. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights MedE Ali Hajimiri

Made-to-Order Materials

09-06-13

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

Counting White Blood Cells at Home

03-28-13

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