Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

News & Events


EAS Remembers Roy W. Gould


Roy W. Gould, Simon Ramo Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on February 19, 2022. He was 94 years old. Gould earned his bachelor's degree from Caltech in 1949, a master's from Stanford University in 1950, and a doctorate from Caltech in 1956. After leaving Stanford, he worked as an engineer on missile guidance and control at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, and then at Hughes Aircraft. He joined Caltech's faculty in 1955. Gould started as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, became Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1958, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics in 1960, and Professor in 1962. He was named Professor of Applied Physics in 1974 and became Ramo Professor of Engineering in 1980. He served as Executive Officer of Applied Physics from 1973–79 and Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1979–85. Gould's research focused on plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion. During his long career, Gould earned numerous awards and recognitions. [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers Noel Corngold


Noel Corngold, Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus, passed away on January 24. He was 93 years old. Corngold was born in New York City in 1929. He received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College in 1949; followed by his master's degree and doctorate from Harvard University in 1950 and 1954, respectively. He worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York for 12 years before joining Caltech's faculty in 1966. Corngold was a professor of applied science studying nuclear engineering until 1974, when he joined the newly created applied physics option. As a professor of applied physics, he extended his research to include radiation transport, plasma physics, and the statistical mechanics of fluids. As a nuclear engineer, he conducted award-winning theoretical work on how neutrons behave in reactors. He was elected to the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in 1966 and awarded a certificate of merit from the society's Reactor Physics Division for his "physical insight into neutronic problems." He received the society's Eugene P. Wigner Reactor Physics Award in 2002 and its Arthur Holly Compton Award in Education in 2006. Corngold became an emeritus professor in 2002. [Caltech story]

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New Chip-Based Laser Gyroscope Measures Earth's Rotation


Optical gyroscopes are used in applications such as aircraft navigation systems, while MEMS gyroscopes are found in devices like smart phones. Kerry J. Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, has developed an optical gyroscope that combines some of the best characteristics of each into one device. "For more than 20 years, researchers have speculated about placing optical gyroscopes onto a chip very much like the highly successful MEMS gyroscopes. But until recently, there have been very few compelling experiments," Vahala says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST

Caltech Mourns Passing of Manuel "Manny" Soriaga


Manuel P. Soriaga, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, passed away on July 17, 2019. As a principal investigator in Caltech's Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), Soriaga studied electrochemical reactions that make artificial photosynthesis possible. "Manny’s accomplishments as a surface scientist were peerless and of the highest quality, and he made essential and indispensable contributions to JCAP’s mission," says Professor Harry Atwater. "All who knew him well will also remember with fondness the warmth and humor that he brought to his work and life." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Harry Atwater JCAP Manuel Soriaga

Tools and Techniques to Track and Study Methane


Methane is less prevalent in the atmosphere than fellow greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), but it presents more difficult challenges for researchers attempting to study it. Professor Wennberg, is working with colleagues from across Caltech to study methane and its effects on the globe and to pioneer tools and techniques needed to identify, track, and characterize the gas and its sources. One such colleague is Professor Vahala who has paved the way for the miniaturization of high-resolution spectrometers. His new soliton-based system is the basis for a new collaboration with Professor Frankenberg to apply dual-comb spectrometer to methane tracking and analysis. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights ESE Paul Wennberg Kerry Vahala Christian Frankenberg

'Comb on a Chip' Powers New Atomic Clock Design


Scott Diddams who was a 2012 Caltech Moore Distinguished Scholar and is a Project Lead at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues including Professor Kerry Vahala have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale frequency comb, or a microcomb. The microcomb clock is the first demonstration of all-optical control of the microcomb, and its accurate conversion of optical frequencies to lower microwave frequencies. Caltech researchers made the 2-millimeter-wide silica disk that generates the frequency comb for the new clock. [NIST Press Release] [Learn More]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala IST Scott Diddams

Future Electronics May Depend on Lasers, Not Quartz


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics as well as the Executive Officer for APhMS, and colleagues have developed a method to stabilize microwave signals in the range of gigahertz, or billions of cycles per second—using a pair of laser beams as the reference, in lieu of a quartz crystal. "There are always tradeoffs between the highest performance, the smallest size, and the best ease of integration. But even in this first demonstration, these optical oscillators have many advantages; they are on par with, and in some cases even better than, what is available with widespread electronic technology," Vahala says. [Caltech Release]

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From First Mile to Last Mile


Over his 47 year career, William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics, has made seminal contributions to the theory and application of computational materials and molecular science which have led to numerous advances in diverse areas of science and engineering. In celebration of his career and 77th birthday his colleagues, students, and collaborators gathered at a celebration at Caltech entitled Bill Goddard and Computational Materials & Molecular Science: From First Mile to Last Mile. Special guests and speakers included Ares Rosakis, Carver Mead, Harry Gray, nobel laureate Rudolph Marcus and Sadasivan Shankar from Intel Corporation. [Tribute article about Professor Gaddard III]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Ares Rosakis William Goddard Carver Mead Harry Gray Rudolph Marcus

Celebrating 50 Years of the Argon Ion Laser


William Bridges, Carl F Braun Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, discovered and patented the Argon ion laser on February 14, 1964, while at Hughes Research Laboratories. Today noble gas (argon, krypton, xenon) lasers are used in a variety of applications including DNA sequencers, cell sorters, eye surgery, and laser light shows. Professor Bridges' research work with lasers involved an airborne night reconnaissance system (AN/AVD-3), space communications systems, early high power laser weapons (the carbon dioxide gas dynamic laser), and hydrogen maser clocks for the global positioning system. He also holds the patent for the Ionized Noble Gas Laser. [Oral History of Prof. Bridges]

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Professor Clauser Passes Away


Francis H. Clauser, Clark Blanchard Millikan Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on Sunday, March 3, at 99 years of age. Professor Clauser, a Caltech alumnus (PhD '37), served as Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science from 1969 to 1974. Upon stepping down as Chair he remained the Millikan Professor until his retirement. Although he retired in 1980, he maintained a vital presence on the Caltech campus, particularly at the Athenaeum round table, until shortly before he passed. [Caltech Release]

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