News & Events


Creature-Cataloging Contest for Computers


Caltech and Cornell teamed up to create the iNaturalist Challenge, a competition to create the best machine-learning algorithm for identifying the world's plant and animal species. The contest was an outgrowth of the institutions' previous work together on Visipedia, a visual encyclopedia created by a network of people and machine-learning computers that harvest image information off the internet. The technology was developed for the encyclopedia by Pietro Perona's Vision Group at Caltech and Serge Belongie's Computer Vision Group at Cornell Tech. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Pietro Perona

Neural Networks Model Audience Reactions to Movies


Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and colleagues have created a new deep-learning software capable of assessing complex audience reactions to movies using the viewer's facial expressions. "Understanding human behavior is fundamental to developing AI [artificial intelligence] systems that exhibit greater behavioral and social intelligence. For example, developing AI systems to assist in monitoring and caring for the elderly relies on being able to pick up cues from their body language. After all, people don't always explicitly say that they are unhappy or have some problem," Professor Yue says. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Yisong Yue

Holographic Imaging Could Be Used to Detect Signs of Life in Space


Jay Nadeau, Research Professor of Medical Engineering and Aerospace, and colleagues are exploring ways to sample and identify living microbes in the outer solar system. Her proposal is to use new microscopes on spacecraft that could visit the icy moons of Enceladus (Saturn) and Europa (Jupiter) and to collect and search water samples for life. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT Jay Nadeau

Reflective Nanostructures


Andrei Faraon, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have discovered how to use computer-chip manufacturing technologies to create the kind of reflective materials that make safety vests, running shoes, and road signs appear shiny in the dark. The new technology uses surfaces covered by a metamaterial consisting of millions of silicon pillars, each only a few hundred nanometers tall. By adjusting the size of the pillars and the spacing between them, Faraon can manipulate how the surface reflects, refracts, or transmits light. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Andrei Faraon

Grad Student Makes Ultra-Sensitive Measurement of Deformation


Xiaoyue Ni, a materials science graduate student working with Professor Julia Greer, has shown that metals undergo permanent deformation even prior to yielding—the threshold at which a material under strain becomes permanently deformed. "What Xiaoyue's data are showing is that from the first moment you start deforming it, the dislocations start being active," Greer says. Now that we know how to do this, we can probe a variety of different classes of materials. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Julia Greer Xiaoyue Ni

Capturing Clouds


Professor Tapio Schneider has helped bring artist Karen LaMonte's cloudy vision to life. "I thought it was a great idea," says Schneider, whose work focuses on reducing uncertainties in climate change projections—in part through modeling cloud formation to better understand clouds' impact on the environment. Collaborating with LaMonte, he reasoned, could help raise awareness of these issues. "Clouds are hugely important for the climate," says Schneider. "How much warmer it will get depends on what happens to cumulus clouds like those Karen was interested in. " [SoCaltech story]

Tags: research highlights ESE Tapio Schneider Karen LaMonte

Nanostructures Detect Colors


Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, and colleagues have combined nanophotonics and thermoelectrics to generate materials capable of distinguishing between tiny differences in wavelengths of light. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater

Ultra-Thin Camera Creates Images Without Lenses


Professor Ali Hajimiri and colleagues have developed a new camera design that replaces the lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using large pieces of glass: it manipulates incoming light to capture an image. "Here, like most other things in life, timing is everything. With our new system, you can selectively look in a desired direction and at a very small part of the picture in front of you at any given time, by controlling the timing with femto-second—quadrillionth of a second—precision," says Professor Hajimiri. [Caltech story] [ENGenious silicon photonics feature]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE Ali Hajimiri

A Rainbow of Possibilities


Professor Andrei Faraon, graduate student Ehsan Arbabi, and their colleagues have developed a metasurface or a sheet of material that can be altered on demand to exhibit properties not usually found in natural materials. For example, materials engineered at the nanoscale can control the dispersion of light and could be the basis of next-generation spectrometers and other imaging devices. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Andrei Faraon Ehsan Arbabi

2017 Library Thesis Prize


Senior Daniel Lim has received the 2017 Library Friends' Senior Thesis Prize for his work on sculpting nanofilms with laser illumination. Lim's thesis, titled "Revolution in large-area curved surface lithography: Nanofilm sculpting by thermocapillary modulation," is based on experimental research he conducted over two years in the laboratory of Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering Sandra M. Troian. "Our group has been working on thermocapillary sculpting of nanofilms for several years now,” says Troian. "Daniel advanced this concept by demonstrating an inverse projection method, which imbues the sculpting process with far greater versatility. Daniel is an exceptional student—a rare combination of superb talent, tremendous drive, utmost professionalism, and entrepreneurial chops. " [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlights MCE Sandra Troian Daniel Lim