Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

News & Events


New Institute for Quantum Information and Matter


Caltech has been awarded $12.6 million in funding by the National Science Foundation to create the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM), the center will bring physicists and computer scientists together to push theoretical and experimental boundaries in the study of exotic quantum states.  The co-directors of this institute are Professors Jeff Kimble, Jim Eisenstein, Oskar Painter, and John Preskill. "When you bring innovative scientists and engineers together and provide them with the facilities and collaborative spaces they need, magic happens. The magic involves transforming the way we think about and impact our world," says EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS CMS Oskar Painter Ares Rosakis John Preskill Jim Eisenstein

Fueling Fundamental Research


To strengthen fundamental science and technology and foster transformational advances in renewable energies, the Dow Chemical Company and Caltech have established a $10 million partnership. Under the partnership, Dow will provide ongoing support for graduate student research through endowed fellowships which include five in energy science. The Resnick Sustainability Institute is receiving a significant portion of the funding in the agreement. Through the new Dow Chemical Company Bridge/CI2 Innovation Program, financial support will be used to further promising graduate and postdoc research that has the possibility of creating licensable technologies and start-ups. The graduate research fellowships in energy—renewable for up to two years—will help advance clean-energy goals. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy Resnick Dow postdocs

Professor Daraio Named Young Investigator Lecturer by SEM


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has been named the 2012 Journal of Strain Analysis (JSA) Young Investigator Lecturer by the Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM). This award recognizes an SEM member in early to mid-career who demonstrates considerable potential in the field of experimental mechanics. The selection is a public statement by their professional peers of the quality and impact of the contributions that they have made thus far in their career.

Tags: APhMS honors Chiara Daraio GALCIT

Professor Greer Receives Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award


Julia R. Greer, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, has been selected by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Materials Division Executive Committee to receive the 2011 Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award for her research contributions in “physical origins of size-dependent mechanical properties in nano-scale solids”.

Tags: APhMS honors Julia Greer

Using Laser Light to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics and Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues including graduate student Jasper Chan have cooled a miniature mechanical object—a tiny mechanical silicon beam— to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors. "In many ways, the experiment we've done provides a starting point for the really interesting quantum-mechanical experiments one wants to do," Painter says. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Oskar Painter Jasper Chan

Solar Decathlon Team


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), placed 6th at the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. In the category of Energy Balance we tied for first place; in the categories of engineering and home entertainment, we placed 2nd, and in affordability we placed third. [Final scores and photos] [Walkthrough video of CHIP]

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Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater CMS Richard Murray Solar Decathlon

CHIP Goes to Washington


The high-tech house built by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), known as Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP), is heading to Washington D.C. for the 2011 Solar Decathlon competition. The SCI-Arc / Caltech team has been supported by a variety of people including Richard Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, and Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Resnick Sustainability Institute. CHIP will be competing with 18 other teams for the title of the most energy-efficient, affordable, and attractive house. [Caltech Feature] [Walkthrough video of CHIP]

Tags: APhMS energy Harry Atwater CMS Richard Murray Solar Decathlon

Nano-mechanics of Carbon Nanotube Research Wins Art Competition


Siddhartha (Sid) Pathak, a W. M. Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) Postdoctoral Fellow in Material Science, has received the first prize in the NanoArt 2011 International Competition. The inspiration for Dr. Pathak's entry entitled "In-situ SEM deformation of CNT micro-pillars" is his research on nano-mechanics of carbon nanotubes.  As a KISS postdoc Dr. Pathak is working with  Professor Julia Greer on mechanical testing of carbon nanotubes at submicron length scales, with a particular emphasis towards space applications.  

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Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Julia Greer KISS Siddhartha Pathak postdocs

Disorder Is Key to Nanotube Mystery


William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics; and Posdoctoral Scholar Tod Pascal believe to have solved the mystery of why water spontaneously flows into extremely small tubes of graphite or graphene, called carbon nanotubes.  Using a novel method to calculate the dynamics of water molecules they have found that entropy is the missing key.  "It's a pretty surprising result," says Professor Goddard "People normally focus on energy in this problem, not entropy." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights William Goddard Tod Pascal

Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology


Liang Feng, a Postdoctoral Scholar in Electrical Engineering who works with Professor Axel Scherer, has designed a new type of optical waveguide - a 0.8-micron-wide silicon device. The waveguide allows light to go in one direction but changes the mode of the light when it travels in the opposite direction. This new technique to isolate light signals on a silicon chip, solves a longstanding problem in engineering photonic chips. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS EE energy research highlights Liang Feng Axel Scherer postdocs