Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

News & Events


Saying Yes to Caltech


Seneca Velling accepted the Caltech Materials Science offer of admission in a unique way: by 3D printing the Caltech logo and crest at his current place of employment, Formlabs. We look forward to seeing these items on Seneca’s desk come fall!

Tags: MatSci Seneca Velling

Students Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected graduate students Komron Shayegan, Steven Bulfer, and Daniel Mukasa to receive Graduate Research Fellowships. The selection criteria used to identify NSF fellows reflect the potential of the applicant to advance knowledge and benefit society. Those selected for a fellowship will receive support for three years of graduate study in a research-based master's or doctoral program in science or engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE honors alumni Komron Shayegan Steven Bulfer Skye Reese Noelle Unyoung Davis Daniel Mukasa

Computational Tool for Materials Physics Growing in Popularity


Marco Bernardi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has developed a new piece of software that makes it easier to study the behavior of electrons in materials—even materials that have been predicted but do not yet exist. The software, called Perturbo, is gaining traction among researchers. "Over the next decade, we will continue to expand the capabilities of our code, and make it the go-to for first-principles calculations of electron dynamics," Bernardi says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Marco Bernardi

Wei Gao Receives 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award


Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has been selected to receive the prestigious 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award from 3M Corporation. This award recognizes outstanding new faculty who were nominated by 3M researchers and selected based on their research, experience and academic leadership. The purpose of the award is to help the faculty members achieve tenure, remain in their teaching position, and conduct research.

Tags: APhMS honors MedE KNI Wei Gao

Professor Phillips Awarded Feynman Teaching Prize


The 2021 Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Caltech's highest teaching prize, has been awarded to Rob Phillips, Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics. The Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching was established in 1993 to honor annually a professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. "Being a professor at Caltech has been the signature privilege of my professional life," says Phillips. "Though I am deeply honored by this award, I am also totally cognizant of the generations of students that have joined me in my teaching and research adventures and without whom, none of this would have been possible. I have been surrounded by so many brilliant and dedicated young scientists that have joined me in celebrating the sense of wonder that fuels our science." [Past recipients] [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors Rob Phillips Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

New Insight into Nonlinear Optical Resonators Unlocks Door to Numerous Potential Applications


Devices known as optical parametric oscillators are among the widely used nonlinear resonators in optics; they are "nonlinear" in that there is light flowing into the system and light leaking out, but not at the same wavelengths. Though these oscillators are useful in a variety of applications, including in quantum optics experiments, the physics that underpins how their output wavelength, or spectrum, behaves is not well understood. "When you add strong nonlinearity to resonators, you enter what we call a 'rich physics regime,'" says Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics. "'Rich' in physics terms usually means complicated and hard to use, but we need nonlinearities to create useful functionalities such as switching for computing." To be able to make full use of nonlinear optical resonators, researchers want to be able to understand and model the physics that underpin how they work. Marandi and his colleagues recently uncovered a potential way to engineer those rich physics, while discovering phase transitions in the light that is generated by the resonators. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights KNI Alireza Marandi

Professor Wei Gao Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship


Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry for 2021. Recipients represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders. [Past Fellows] [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE KNI Wei Gao

Abigail Jiang Wins SURF Speaking Competition


Materials science undergraduate student Abigail Jiang is the winner of the Doris S. Perpall Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Speaking Competition. She was recognized as the best speaker out of 200 students who presented their SURF research. Abigail's SURF project was entitled, “Developing Physical Lab Infrastructure for Thin Film Material Growth and Evaluation." Robert C. Perpall, a Caltech mechanical engineering alumnus and past member of the SURF Board, created the Doris S. Perpall SURF speaking prize in 1993 as an incentive for Caltech students to give excellent oral presentations. [View Presentations]

Tags: APhMS honors Abigail Jiang

Caltech and NTT Research Launch Collaboration to Develop World’s Fastest Coherent Ising Machine


Researchers from Caltech and NTT Research are collaborating to develop a high-speed Coherent Ising Machine (CIM). A CIM is a network of optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) programmed to solve problems that have been mapped to an Ising model, which is a mathematical abstraction of magnetic systems composed of competitively interacting spins, or angular momentums of fundamental particles. The principal investigator at Caltech for this four-and-a-half-year joint project is Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science. “We are delighted at the prospect of working with Professor Vahala to develop an extremely small and high-speed CIM,” said NTT Research PHI Lab Director, Yoshihisa Yamamoto. “This work will advance our understanding of the CIM’s capabilities, map well with ongoing and related work with other institutions, provide new demonstrations of this awesomely powerful new information system and, we hope, set standards for the CIM’s speed and size.” [NTT Research story] [Business Wire story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala KNI

Tiny Shape-Shifting Polymers Developed for Potential Medical Applications


Julia Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has developed a process for generating three-dimensional architected polymers with heat-dependent "shape memory" properties: that is, when heated, the material folds and unfolds itself into a new preordained shape. These shape memory polymers could one day be used to perform complex tasks inside the human body, such as unclogging a blocked artery or pulling out a blood clot. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Julia Greer KNI Luizetta Elliott