News & Events


Professor Phillips Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences


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]

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Professor Fultz Elected Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America


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]

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Using Applied Physics to Explain How Accretion Disks Drive Astrophysical Jets


Paul M. Bellan, Professor of Applied Physics, has developed a new model explaining why astrophysical jets always originate from stars having accretion disks, the progenitors of planets. The relationship between jets and accretion disks has eluded scientists for many years and what happens to the angular momentum of accreting particles has also long been a mystery. Professor Bellan’s model explains how the disks power the jets as well as how angular momentum is removed from accreting material in the disks. The model involves peculiar inward spiraling trajectories of clumps of charged and neutral particles, and shows that the disk and jets together form an electric circuit where the disk is the battery and the jet is the load. [Read the Paper]

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Professor Greer Named National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, has been chosen as a 2016 class of National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow. The program awards grants to outstanding scientists and engineers at U.S. universities to conduct long-term, unclassified, basic research of strategic importance to the Defense Department. Professor Greer will conduct research in the area of Nano-architected Meta-materials. [U.S. Department of Defense Press Release]

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Seeking a Balanced Equation


Applied Physics graduate student Peter Hung, working with Professor Roukes, is one of the Caltech students featured in a recent E&S article. “In our lab, we shoot molecules of different sizes and shapes at really small mechanical resonators—tiny bridges almost 1,000 times smaller than the width of your hair—and use the change in the resonant frequency (how fast these bridges are vibrating) to reconstruct the shape and mass of the molecules that we’re shooting,” Hung explains. [E&S article]

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Professor Faraon Receives ONR Young Investigator Award


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, is a recipient of a 2016 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award. The objectives of the Young Investigator Program are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers. Professor Faraon’s award is for his proposal entitled, Quantum Transduction Between Optical and Microwave Photons using Rare-Earth-Doped Materials. [Recipient List] [Caltech story]

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Professor Dimotakis Elected to the National Academy of Engineering


Paul E. Dimotakis, John K. Northrop Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Applied Physics, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Dimotakis was elected for his contributions to the fluid mechanics of jet propulsion and other processes involving turbulence, mixing, and transport. [Caltech story]

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Tiny Diatoms Boast Enormous Strength


Researchers in the lab of Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, have recently found that diatom shells have the highest specific strength—the strength at which a structure breaks with respect to its density—of any known biological material, including bone, antlers, and teeth. [Caltech story]

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Moriah Bischann Wins SURF Speaking Competition


Material science undergraduate student Moriah Bischann, mentored by aerospace postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Owen Kingstedt, is the winner of the Doris S. Perpall Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Speaking Competition. She was recognized as the best speakers-out of the 200 students who presented their SURF research. Her summer research focused on exploring the next generation of structural materials. During her ten week SURF project she studied the effects of alloying and processing on the dynamic behavior of magnesium (Mg). This work was done to address the larger question of whether Mg is a useful material for the automotive, aerospace, energy, and defense industries where a material is needed that has low density, but also the strength to withstand high impact forces.

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Novel Calibration Tool Will Help Astronomers


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a novel calibration tool, called a laser frequency comb, which could allow astronomers to take a major step in discovering and characterizing earthlike planets around other stars. The comb produces easily resolvable lines, without any need for filtering and is built from off-the-shelf components developed by the telecommunications industry. "We have demonstrated an alternative approach that is simple, reliable, and relatively inexpensive," says Professor Vahala. [Caltech story]

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