News & Events

News Headlines

Team CoSTAR Takes First Place in Underground Robot Competition

02-27-20

A team including Caltech researchers and JPL earned top honors in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge. Whether robots are exploring caves on other planets or disaster areas here on Earth, they need to be able to navigate a location and seek out objects of interest without access to GPS or human guidance. The Subterranean Challenge tests this kind of cutting-edge technology. "One of the two courses we had to run had multiple levels, so it was great that the Boston Dynamics robots were fantastic on stairs," says Joel Burdick, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering and JPL research scientist, and the leader of the Caltech campus section of the CoSTAR team. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MedE MCE Joel Burdick CNS

Professor Wang Advances Photoacoustic Imaging Technology

02-25-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed variants of photoacoustic imaging that can show organs moving in real time, develop three-dimensional (3-D) images of internal body parts, and even differentiate cancerous cells from healthy cells. Photoacoustic imaging, a technique for examining living materials through the use of laser light and ultrasonic sound waves, has many potential applications in medicine because of its ability to show everything from organs to blood vessels to tumors. Wang has now further advanced photoacoustic imaging technology with what he calls Photoacoustic Topography Through an Ergodic Relay (PATER), which aims to simplify the equipment required for imaging of this type. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Ultrasound Can Selectively Kill Cancer Cells

02-05-20

Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, and Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, are exploring a new technique that could offer a targeted approach to fighting cancer. Low-intensity pulses of ultrasound have been shown to selectively kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. In the past, ultrasound waves have been used as a cancer treatment with high-intensity bursts resulting in killing cancer and normal cells. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MedE MCE Morteza Gharib Michael Ortiz

Professor Wang Develops World's Fastest Camera

01-21-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed the world's fastest camera, a device capable of taking 10 trillion pictures per second. It's so fast that it can even capture light traveling in slow motion. "What we've done is to adapt standard phase-contrast microscopy so that it provides very fast imaging, which allows us to image ultrafast phenomena in transparent materials," says Wang. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Wearable Sweat Sensor Detects Gout-Causing Compounds

11-25-19

In a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology, Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, describes a mass-producible wearable sensor that can monitor levels of metabolites and nutrients in a person's blood by analyzing their sweat. Gao's sweat sensor is more sensitive than current devices and can detect sweat compounds of much lower concentrations, in addition to being easier to manufacture. "Considering that abnormal circulating nutrients and metabolites are related to a number of health conditions, the information collected from such wearable sensors will be invaluable for both research and medical treatment," Gao says. [Caltech story] [Read the paper]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao

New Polymer Heart Valve Implanted in First Patient

09-18-19

Professor Morteza Gharib, has designed a new generation of heart valves that are longer-lasting, cost less to manufacture, and are more biocompatible than options that are currently available to patients. One of the new valves has been implanted into a human for the first time. "This is among my proudest moments. Creating something with the potential to save and improve lives is one of the reasons I became an engineer," Gharib says. [Caltech release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

New Metamaterial Changes Shape in a Tunable Fashion

09-12-19

Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, has developed a new type of architected metamaterial that has the ability to change shape in a tunable fashion. The material has potential applications in next-generation energy storage and bio-implantable micro-devices. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Julia Greer

A Promising Step in Returning Bipedal Mobility

08-19-19

Professors Aaron Ames and Joel Burdick have launched a new research initiative, RoAMS (Robotic Assisted Mobility Science), aimed at restoring natural and stable locomotion to individuals with walking deficiencies that result from spinal cord injuries and strokes. RoAMS unites robotic assistive devices—including exoskeletons and prostheses—with artificial intelligence (AI)-infused neurocontrol. "Bipedal walking is difficult to achieve in a stable fashion," says Professor Ames. "While crutches help users of the exoskeletons to stay upright, they undercut many of the health benefits that upright locomotion might otherwise provide. In addition, they do not allow users to do anything else with their hands while walking." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MedE Yu-Chong Tai MCE CMS Joel Burdick Yisong Yue Aaron Ames

Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses Show Promise For Treating Tumors

07-24-19

MedE Professors Wei Gao and Lihong Wang are working on microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body. "These micromotors can penetrate the mucus of the digestive tract and stay there for a long time. This improves medicine delivery," Professor Gao says. "But because they're made of magnesium, they're biocompatible and biodegradable." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Lihong Wang Wei Gao

Professor Gharib Constructs Leonardo da Vinci's Model of Flow

07-16-19

Leonardo da Vinci studied the motion of blood in the human body. He was interested in the heart’s passive, three-cusp aortic valve, which he realized must be operated by the motion of blood. He theorized that vortices curl back to fill the cusps in the flask-shaped constriction at the aorta’s neck. Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Booth-Kresa Leadership Chair, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies, has used modern imaging techniques to demonstrate the existence of the revolving vortices that Leonardo interpreted as closing the valve. [Nature Article]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib