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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

EAS Division Welcomes New Deputy Chair


Peter Schröder, Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, is the new Deputy Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. "I look forward to working with Peter over the next several years as we continue with our quest to remain a unique collaborative community of isolated singularities that sets a compelling model as a research and teaching institution," says Chair Ares Rosakis.

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Tags: research highlights Peter Schröder

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 postdocs

Knowing When to Fold 'Em


Electrical engineer Azita Emami-Neyestanak is an expert in the 21st century technology of analog and digital circuits for computers, sensors, and other applications, so when she came to Caltech in 2007, she never imagined that she would be incorporating in her research an art form that originated centuries ago. But origami—the Japanese art of paper folding—could play a critical role in her project to design an artificial retina, which may one day help thousands of blind and visually impaired people regain their vision. [Caltech Release]

Tags: research highlights MedE Azita Emami-Neyestanak

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

Seeing Inside Tissue


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues Ying Min Wang and Benjamin Judkewitz have developed a new method to focus light inside biological tissue. "It enables the possibilities of doing incision-less surgery," says Professor Yang. "By generating a tight laser-focus spot deep in tissue, we can potentially use that as a laser scalpel that leaves the skin unharmed." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights Changhuei Yang MedE health Ying Min Wang Benjamin Judkewitz

Naturally Inspired


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering, and colleagues are studying the properties of the zebrafish embryonic heart to address problems as diverse as ringing in the ears and overheated electronics. They have also developed the first pump built entirely from biological building blocks. “We can actually be more clever than nature,” Gharib says. “We can get inspired by nature and use engineering to come up with better functions. Just look at 747s—they fly from LAX to La Guardia much more efficiently than any bird could.” [E&S Article]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT MedE health Morteza Gharib Bioinspired

Stimulating Electrode Array Assists Paraplegic Man to Stand and Move Legs Voluntarily


Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release]

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

Product Design for the Developing World


The only way to pass Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar's E/ME 105 class, Product Design for the Developing World, is by designing something—a machine, a tool, a gadget, a process—to help improve the lives of the billions of people in the world who live on two or three dollars a day. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights MedE MCE Ken Pickar

Yu-Chong Tai Receives 2010 Breakthrough Award


Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, is a recipient of a 2010 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for his work on an artificial retina. [Popular Mechanics Article]

Tags: EE honors research highlights health Yu-Chong Tai MCE Popular Mechanics