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Naturally Inspired

01-04-12

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

Professor Burdick Receives Popular Mechanics Award

10-12-11

Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues are recipients of a 2011 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for their work that helped a paralyzed man stand. The Breakthrough Innovator Awards are in recognition of "innovators whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer, and more efficient in the years to come." [Popular Mechanics Article] [Caltech Feature]

Tags: MedE health MCE Popular Mechanics Joel Burdick

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

05-20-11

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

12-10-10

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

10-04-10

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

Professor Gharib Named Vice Provost

07-29-10

Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bio-Inspired Engineering, is the new Vice Provost with a special focus on research. Professor Gharib has made contributions to a wide array of research topics ranging from the fundamental analysis of biological flows, to the development of bio-inspired medical devices, to advanced flow visualization techniques. One of his more unusual studies was his work with a SURF student several years ago where they raised a 30000-pound obelisk into place using a single kite and speculated that the ancient Egyptians may have moved the massive stones from which the pyramids were built and raised obelisks by flying them into place! His breadth, technical strength, and enthusiasm will serve him and Caltech well as he takes on the role of Vice Provost. [Caltech Today Article]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

Ali Hajimiri Awarded $6 Million to Develop Self-Healing Circuits

04-08-09

Over the past few decades, the transistors in computer chips have become progressively smaller and faster, allowing upwards of a billion individual transistors to be packed into a single circuit, thus shrinking the size of electronic devices. But these circuits have an intractable design flaw: if just a single transistor fails, the entire circuit also fails. One novel way around the problem is a so-called self-healing circuit. Such circuits are "inspired by biological systems that constantly heal themselves in the presence of random and intentional failures," says Caltech professor Ali Hajimiri.

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Ali Hajimiri

Morteza Gharib and Abbas Nasiraei Moghaddam Show Function of Helical Band in Heart

12-01-08

Using an MRI technique, Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioengineering, and his colleague Abbas Nasiraei Moghaddam, a Caltech graduate and visitor in Bioengineering, were able to create some of the first dynamic images of normal heart muscle in action at the tissue level. They showed that a muscular band--which wraps around the inner chambers of the heart in a helix--is actually a sort of twisting highway along which each contraction of the heart travels. "We tagged and traced small tissue elements in the heart, and looked at them in space, so we could see how they moved when the heart contracts," Gharib explains. "In this way, we were able to see where the maximum physical contraction occurs in the heart and when--and to show that it follows this intriguing helical loop." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE health Morteza Gharib

Popular Mechanics Honors Caltech Alumni at Award Ceremony

10-28-08

Popular Mechanics honored a group of Caltech alumni at its annual Breakthrough Awards ceremony on October 15. Rudy Roy ('07), Ben Sexson ('07), and Daniel Oliver ('07), along with Art Center alum Charles Pyott, received the magazine's Next Generation Award for establishing the nonprofit organization Intelligent Mobility International (IMI). IMI's mission is to empower people with disabilities in developing countries by designing and producing safe, affordable wheelchairs made for the rugged terrain of rural communities. The project originated in 2006, in a Caltech class called Product Design for the Developing World, which is taught each fall by Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ken Pickar. [Read more on green design in Caltech News...]

Tags: MedE health MCE Popular Mechanics alumni Ken Pickar

Changhuei Yang Develops "Microscope on a Chip"

07-28-08

Changhuei Yang, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have turned science fiction into reality with their development of a super-compact high-resolution microscope, small enough to fit on a finger tip. This "microscopic microscope" operates without lenses but has the magnifyingpower of a top-quality optical microscope, can be used in the field to analyze blood samples for malaria or check water supplies for giardia and other pathogens, and can be mass-produced for around $10. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights Changhuei Yang MedE health