News & Events


Pushing Microscopy Beyond Standard Limits


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have shown how to make cost-effective, ultra-high-performance microscopes. The final images produced by their new system contain 100 times more information than those produced by conventional microscope platforms. And building upon a conventional microscope, their new system costs only about $200 to implement. This new method could have wide applications not only in digital pathology but also in everything from hematology to wafer inspection to forensic photography. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE Changhuei Yang MedE health research highlight

Intraocular Implant Research Wins at Broadcom Foundation Competition


Manuel Monge, an Electrical Engineering graduate student working with Professor Emami-Neyestanak was awarded third place and $2,500 at the Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition for his project “High-Density Self-Calibrating Epiretinal Prosthesis,” which studies how fully intraocular implants with hundreds of pixels help improve the quality of life for people with macular degeneration. The competition celebrates academic excellence and social awareness among students who perform extraordinary academic research. The Foundation’s mission is to advance education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by funding research, recognizing scholarship and increasing opportunity. [MICS Lab]

Tags: EE honors health Azita Emami-Neyestanak Manuel Monge

Counting White Blood Cells at Home


Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a portable device to count white blood cells that needs less than a pinprick's worth of blood and takes just minutes to run. The heart of the new device is a 50-micrometer-long transparent channel made out of a silicone material with a cross section of only 32 micrometers by 28 micrometers—small enough to ensure that only one white blood cell at a time can flow through the detection region. The stained blood sample flows through this microfluidic channel to the detection region, where it is illuminated with a laser, causing it to fluoresce. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE

Disease Diagnosis at the Touch of a Button


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, and colleagues have built a new version of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, which generates many copies of a pathogenic nucleic acid, allowing the infection to be detected. The device is the result of nearly 10 years of research at Caltech. In 2004, Scherer, a leader in the field of microfluidics, and George Maltezos were investigating how to manipulate biological fluids on a chip. While this was an interesting engineering problem, Maltezos began to wonder how he could apply the microfluidic techniques that he was perfecting to real-world problems. Then the H5N1 bird flu pandemic erupted in Asia, and the team had their real-world problem. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer George Maltezos

A New Tool for Secret Agents—And the Rest of Us


Ali Hajimiri, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Postdoctoral Scholar in Electrical Engineering, Kaushik Sengupta, have developed tiny inexpensive silicon microchips that generate terahertz (THz) waves that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays. When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. "This extraordinary level of creativity, which has enabled imaging in the terahertz frequency range, is very much in line with Caltech's long tradition of innovation in the area of CMOS technology," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "Caltech engineers, like Ali Hajimiri, truly work in an interdisciplinary way to push the boundaries of what is possible." [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights MedE health Ali Hajimiri Kaushik Sengupta

3-D Dentistry


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering as well as Caltech Vice Provost, has designed a handheld device, that has three apertures which take a picture of the tooth at the same time, but from different angles. The three images are then blended together using a computer algorithm to construct a 3-D image. His imaging innovation will ease your trip to the dentist and may soon energize home entertainment systems too. "Professor Gharib is as brilliant a scientist as he is an engineer and inventor," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "I think that's what we have to do to look at humanity's big problems: we have to be ready to act as pure scientists when we observe and discover as well as act as practical engineers when we invent and apply. This continuous interplay happens at Caltech better than at other institutions." [Caltech Release]

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Student Cold Storage Project Wins $25,000 Sustainability Prize


Aeronautics graduate student, Prakhar Mehrotra, has won the $25,000 Dow Resnick Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) at Caltech. His team won the prize for an elegantly simple project called Micro Cold Storage. The idea is to manufacture a portable cold storage unit, scaled to fit in a farmer’s truck, that is powered by solar panels. The project’s implications are far reaching for rural farmers in India, to clinics in Africa, to farmer’s markets in Pasadena. [Learn More]

Tags: honors energy research highlights GALCIT health Prakhar Mehrotra

Progress for Paraplegics


Joel W. Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, are developing new technologies to expand their research which has enabled a paraplegic man to stand and move his legs voluntarily. The team has until now used intelligent guesswork to determine which stimuli might work best. But soon, using a new algorithm developed by Professor Burdick, they will be able to rely on a computer to determine the optimum stimulation levels, based on the patient's response to previous stimuli. This would allow patients to go home after the extensive rehab process with a system that could be continually adjusted by computer. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Progress Report]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE Joel Burdick

Developing the Next Generation of Microsensors


Oskar J. Painter, Professor of Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science; and Co-Director, Kavli Nanoscience Institute, and colleagues have engineered a microscale optical accelerometer. In addition to transforming consumer electronics, such sensors could help with oil and gas exploration deep within the earth, could improve the stabilization systems of fighter jets, and could even be used in some biomedical applications where more traditional sensors cannot operate. "Professor Painter's research in this area nicely illustrates how the Engineering and Applied Science faculty at Caltech are working at the edges of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS energy health Oskar Painter

A Tissue-engineered Jellyfish with Biomimetic Propulsion


Graduate student Janna C. Nawroth, working with Professor John Dabiri and colleagues at Harvard, has turned solid element—silicon—and muscle cells into a freely swimming jellyfish.

"It is fascinating to witness the evolution of the Dabiri group's research from their initial ground-breaking work in understanding the fluid dynamics of jellyfish propulsion to the building of these complex engineered systems using biological materials," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT health John Dabiri Janna Nawroth