Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science - Materials Science

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Highlights

Nanofabrication Courses Let Caltech Undergraduates Get Hands-on at the Smallest Scales

05-27-22

The course combines topical lectures that give the students a preview of what they will be doing in the cleanroom along with hands-on practical training. Both components are conducted as a team effort between Scherer and the KNI technical staff. The first two lectures of the term were presented by KNI’s microscopist, Dr. Annalena Wolff, who lectured on scanning electron and focused ion beam microscopy. Additional lectures were presented by KNI’s Associate Director of Technical Operations, Dr. Guy DeRose, on electron beam lithography.

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Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE Axel Scherer KNI Changsoon Choi Paromita Mitchell Annalena Wolff Guy DeRose Bert Mendoza Alex Wertheim Kelly McKenzie

Böttger Luster: Solving an Artistic Cold Case

05-19-22

In the 18th century, a new purple overglaze enamel emerged from a factory near Dresden, Germany. Named after a German pioneer of porcelain and supposed alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger, this iridescent glaze became known as Böttger luster. Why this porcelain overglaze exhibited iridescence when other purple glazes of the time lacked a lustrous shine remained a mystery until now. The research that started at Northwestern University over a decade ago recently finished at Caltech under the leadership of Katherine Faber, Simon Ramo Professor of Materials Science. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights KNI Katherine Faber Celia Chari Zane Taylor Sujing Xie Anikó Bezur

Chaining Atoms Together Yields Quantum Storage

02-17-22

Engineers at Caltech have developed an approach for quantum storage that could help pave the way for the development of large-scale optical quantum networks. "The ability to build a technology reproducibly and reliably is key to its success," says graduate student Andrei Ruskuc. "In the scientific context, this let us gain unprecedented insight into microscopic interactions between ytterbium qubits and the vanadium atoms in their environment." The new system relies on nuclear spins—the angular momentum of an atom's nucleus—oscillating collectively as a spin wave. This collective oscillation effectively chains up several atoms to store information. "Based on our previous work, single ytterbium ions were known to be excellent candidates for optical quantum networks, but we needed to link them with additional atoms. We demonstrate that in this work," says Andrei Faraon, Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering. [Read the paper] [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights MedE KNI Andrei Faraon Andrei Ruskuc

Professor Mirhosseini Receives Okawa Foundation Research Grant

02-09-22

Mohammad Mirhosseini, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, has been selected as a recipient of 2021 Okawa Foundation Research Grant for developing optical interconnects for microwave quantum processors. [Research Grant Recipients]

Tags: APhMS EE honors KNI Mohammad Mirhosseini

Joseph Falson Named William H. Hurt Scholar

11-05-21

A $75 million gift from the late William (Bill) H. Hurt has established a suite of endowed early-career professorships that brings young faculty together to collaborate, build connections across disciplines, and engage in research and teaching that has the potential to define new fields of study, develop technologies, and advance innovative solutions to address the greatest challenges of the day. Joseph Falson, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, is among four faculty members who make up the inaugural cohort of William H. Hurt Scholars. William H. Hurt Scholars receive unrestricted funding and gain a network of colleagues with whom they will interact through programming designed to catalyze new research ideas and collaborations. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors KNI Joseph Falson

Harry Atwater Receives Von Hippel Award

11-02-21

Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, received the 2021 Von Hippel Award, the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honor. Atwater is being recognized “for fundamental research in light-matter interactions—particularly nanophotonics, plasmonics, photonic metamaterials, and solar energy conversion—and numerous applications of photon control of materials illustrating the value of fundamental research to technologies that improve the quality of life.” The Von Hippel Award recognizes those qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines, as exemplified by the life of Arthur von Hippel. [MRS story]

Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater KNI

Caltech and Amazon Partner to Create New Hub of Quantum Computing

10-26-21

This past year, a new two-story building took shape in the northeast corner of the Caltech campus. Though modest in design, what takes place inside the structure could transform the future of computing. The building is the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, the result of a partnership between Caltech and Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing branch of Amazon. The goal of the collaboration is to create quantum computers and related technologies that have the potential to revolutionize data security, machine learning, medicine development, sustainability practices, and more. "AWS will benefit from the ideas percolating here on campus," says Oskar Painter, John G. Braun Professor of Applied Physics and Physics and head of quantum hardware at AWS. Painter says quantum computing is still a very young technology, so it is crucial for development efforts to be directly connected to the latest research in academia. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS CMS Oskar Painter KNI Fernando Brandão

Controlling Light with a Material Three Atoms Thick

10-22-21

Scientists can control light more precisely than ever with a material only three atoms thick and constructed from so-called black phosphorous. In the lab of Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, three layers of phosphorous atoms were used to create a material for polarizing light that is tunable, precise, and extremely thin. Black phosphorous tech could revolutionize telecommunications by vastly improving light signals sent through fiber-optic cables. The technology could also open the door to a light-based replacement for Wi-Fi, something researchers in the field refer to as Li-Fi. "Increasingly, we're going to be looking at light-wave communications in free space," Atwater says. "Lighting like this very cool-looking lamp above my desk doesn't carry any communication signal. It just provides light. But there's no reason that you couldn't sit in a future Starbucks and have your laptop taking a light signal for its wireless communication rather than a radio signal. It's not quite here yet, but when it gets here, it will be at least a hundred times faster than Wi-Fi." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater KNI

Material Inspired by Chain Mail Transforms from Flexible to Rigid on Command

08-12-21

Engineers at Caltech and JPL have developed a material inspired by chain mail that can transform from a foldable, fluid-like state into specific solid shapes under pressure. "We wanted to make materials that can change stiffness on command," says Chiara Daraio, G. Bradford Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics. "We'd like to create a fabric that goes from soft and foldable to rigid and load-bearing in a controllable way." To explore what materials would work best, Daraio, together with former Caltech postdoctoral researcher Yifan Wang and former Caltech graduate student Liuchi Li (PhD '19) as co-lead authors of the Nature paper, designed a number of configurations of linked particles, from linking rings to linking cubes to linking octahedrons (which resemble two pyramids connected at the base). The materials were 3-D printed out of polymers and even metals, with help from Douglas Hofmann, principal scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. These configurations were then simulated in a computer with a model from the group of José E. Andrade, the George W. Housner Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Caltech's resident expert in the modeling of granular materials. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS Chiara Daraio MCE Jose Andrade KNI Yifan Wang Liuchi Li

Joseph Falson Named Moore Fellow

08-11-21

Joseph Falson, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, has been named as a 2021 Fellow in Materials Synthesis by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Falson's grant will enable him to pursue methods for growing highly pure crystals of new materials. He plans to build a custom piece of equipment with an ultra-high vacuum chamber corrosive materials that also offers access to the materials so that sensitive experiments may be conducted on them. "Broadly, the field is looking for fundamentally new types of materials that show some type of complex functionality," says Falson. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors KNI Joseph Falson