Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

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Highlights

Winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-16

The student winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special dinner with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Rachel P. Galimidi received the prize in Biotechnology for her work with Professor Pamela Bjorkman aimed to further understand the mechanism of HIV evasion of the humoral immune response. Junle Jiang was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Nadia Lapusta which used probabilistic inversion tools to understand the deep-ocean trench generated tsunamis that occurred during the subduction-zone earthquakes in Japan and Chile. Yinglu Tang working with Dr. Jeff Snyder received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for her work on thermoelectric skutterudites for mid-temperature applications such as automotive waste heat recovery. The second winner in this category was Changhong Zhao who worked with Professor Steven Low to study the control and optimization of modern electric power systems. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Gustavo Rios whose research involves development of a modular, scalable, nanofabricated neural probe system for dense 3-D electrophysiology to study animal brains. Rio’s graduate advisor was Professor Thanos Siapas. The prize in Entrepreneurship was given to Anton A. Toutov who was advised by Professor Robert Grubbs. His research interests lie in using fundamental chemistry to development radically new, sustainable ways to make everyday chemical products and generate clean energy.

Tags: APhMS EE honors MedE MCE CMS Jeff Snyder Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Robert Grubbs CNS Junle Jiang Rachel P. Galimidi Pamela Bjorkman Yinglu Tang Changhong Zhao Gustavo Rios Thanos Siapas Anton Toutov

Smaller Chips May Depend on Vacuum Tube Technology

06-05-16

A recent New York Times article featured Caltech alumnus, Gordon Moore (PhD ’54), and the research of Professor Axel Scherer on ultrasmall vacuum tube as a candidate to replace the transistor. [Read the article]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights CMS Gordon Moore Axel Scherer

Kevin Chen Receives 2016 Henry Ford II Scholar Award

05-31-16

Applied Physics student Kevin Chen, mentored by Professor Harry Atwater, is a recipient of the 2016 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. During his first two years at Caltech he worked on the optical and electrical components of an ultra-efficient photovoltaic module in the Atwater lab. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.

Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater Henry Ford II Scholar Award Kevin Chen

Engineering Nanodevices to Store Information the Quantum Way

05-27-16

Stevan Nadj-Perge, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, is interested in creating a device that could harness the power of entangled particles within a usable technology. A large part of his research is focused on finding ways to store and process quantum information. Quantum information is very fragile and even the smallest amount of external noise messes up quantum states. There are various schemes that tackle this problem and postpone decoherence, but the one that he is most interested in involves Majorana fermions. Relatively recently theorists figured out how to engineer these particles in the lab. Nadj-Perge explains, “it turns out that, under certain conditions, when you combine certain materials and apply high magnetic fields at very cold temperatures, electrons will form a state that looks exactly as you would expect from Majorana fermions. Furthermore, such engineered states allow you to store quantum information in a way that postpones decoherence.” [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlight Stevan Nadj-Perge

Professor Atwater Receives James King Jr. Award

05-24-16

Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as the Director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, is the 2016 recipient of the James King Jr. Award. The award is given annual by the Caltech Center for Diversity to an individual who stands out as a strong supporter of diversity. Professor Atwater received several nominations which recognized “his commitment to recruiting, training, and encouraging female scientists to join and thrive in his research group.” One of his nominators wrote, “He has stood up for his female students when they have faced gender-biased behavior from others, and is a true advocate for all his students.” Another nominator stated that he “is a glowing example of how supportive faculty members can be in advisory roles.” Professor Atwater’s “efforts have long term positive effects for combating gender imbalances in academia.”

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Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater diversity

Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis

05-03-16

In a recent New York Times article Professor Harry A. Atwater, Jr. discussed the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). He said, “The grand prize is figuring out how to make carbon dioxide be recyclable, a renewable resource. That would be a millennial advance for society.” JCAP was established in 2010 as a U.S. Department of Energy Energy Innovation Hub that aims to find new and effective ways to produce fuels using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. “You can rest assured that the energy and catalysis problems of humanity will not have been resolved five years from now,” Professor Atwater said in the interview. But there is growing interest in the work, particularly after the recently signed Paris climate treaty that calls for sharp emissions reductions to combat global warming. “We have some wind at our back that we haven’t had until recently,” he added. [New York Times article]

Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater JCAP

Undergraduate Wins Hertz Fellowships

04-28-16

Applied Physics senior Paul Dieterle has been selected by the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation to receive a 2016 Hertz Fellowships.  The fellows are chosen for their intellect, their ingenuity, and their potential to bring meaningful improvement to society.  At Caltech, Paul has worked and studied under the guidance of Engineering and Applied Science Professors Painter and Schwab. His research focuses on the physics of superconducting quantum circuits, photon-phonon interactions, and many-body interactions. In the long term, he says, he aims to "construct integrated quantum systems to explore both fundamental and application-oriented physics." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors Oskar Painter Keith Schwab Paul Dieterle

Professor Phillips Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

04-21-16

Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has been elected to the 2016 American Academy of Arts and Sciences class of fellows. Founded in 1780, the academy aims to serve the nation by cultivating "every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." [List of 2016 fellows] [ENGenious article]

Tags: APhMS honors AMACAD Rob Phillips

Professor Fultz Elected Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America

04-06-16

Brent Fultz, Barbara and Stanley R. Rawn, Jr., Professor of Materials Science and Applied Physics, has been elected as a Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America (NSSA). He is being recognized for his “outstanding record of leadership and service to the neutron scattering community, and important discoveries in the field of vibrational entropy and alloy thermodynamics." [2016 NSSA Fellows]

Tags: APhMS honors Brent Fultz

A Bright Future in Photovoltaics

04-04-16

Alumna Carissa Eisler discusses her passion for science and her research in Professor Harry Atwater’s group on photovoltaics—the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy using semiconducting materials. She was part of a group tasked with developing an ultrahigh-efficiency solar-cell module that involves designing solar collectors, optical components, and electronics. [e&s article]

Tags: APhMS Harry Atwater alumni Carissa Eisler