News & Events


Space Solar Power Initiative


Caltech and Northrop Grumman Corporation have signed a $17.5 million sponsored research agreement for the development of the Space Solar Power Initiative (SSPI). The initiative will develop technologies in three areas: high-efficiency ultralight photovoltaics; ultralight deployable space structures; and phased array and power transmission. "The Space Solar Power Initiative brings together electrical engineers, applied physicists, and aerospace engineers in the type of profound interdisciplinary collaboration that is seamlessly enhanced at a small place like Caltech... We are working on extremely difficult problems that could eventually provide the world with new, and very cost-competitive technology for sustainable energy,” said EAS Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech story] [Northrop Grumman Release]

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Four Caltech Professors Elected to the National Academy of Engineering


Professors Harry AtwaterMorteza GharibGuruswami Ravichandran, and Robert Grubbs have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Atwater was elected for contributions to plasmonics. Professor Gharib was elected for contributions to fluid flow diagnostics and imagery, and engineering of bioinspired devices and phenomena. Professor Ravichandran was elected for contributions to mechanics of dynamic deformation, damage, and failure of engineering materials. Professor Grubbs was elected for developments in catalysts that have enabled commercial products. [Caltech story]

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New Technique Could Harvest More of the Sun's Energy


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, and colleagues have created a new technique to harness the lost energy from solar panels. “Silicon absorbs only a certain fraction of the spectrum, and it's transparent to the rest. If I put a photovoltaic module on my roof, the silicon absorbs that portion of the spectrum, and some of that light gets converted into power. But the rest of it ends up just heating up my roof," explains Professor Atwater. Now they have found a way to absorb and make use of these infrared waves with a structure composed not of silicon, but entirely of metal. [Caltech story]

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Inside the Caltech Laboratories of Professors Atwater and Arnold


The creators of the Austrian TV documentary TM Wissen (TM Knowledge) go inside the laboratories of Professors Harry A. Atwater, Jr. and Frances H. Arnold to learn more about their research at Caltech.

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Professor Atwater Receives Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, has received the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics for pioneering achievements in plasmonics and novel nanophotonic routes to ultrahigh-efficiency solar energy conversion. Professor Atwater’s scientific interests have two themes: plasmonics and optical metamaterials as well as photovoltaics and solar energy conversion. He is an early pioneer in nanophotonics and plasmonics, giving the name to the field of plasmonics in 2001. The Julius Springer Prize is awarded annually to scientists who have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of applied physics. [Caltech Release] [Springer release]

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LMI-EFRC Awarded $15 Million DOE Funding


The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is extending the funding to Caltech's Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion (LMI) program, one of 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) nationwide that will receive a combined $100 million over the next four years to pursue innovative energy research. [Caltech Press Release]

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Highly Cited


The Thomson Reuters compilation of the most highly cited researchers— those in the top 1%—from the period 2002–2012 include EAS professors Harry Atwater, Richard Murray, Joel Tropp, John Seinfeld, Kerry Vahala, and Paul Wennberg. Other Caltech professors were also among the top 1%—including Colin Camerer, Mark Davis, Richard Ellis, William Goddard, Robert Grubbs, Hiroo Kanamori, Jeff Kimble, John O’Doherty, and Charles Steidel. This compilation aims to identify researchers with exceptional impact on their respective fields.  [Detailed information on the methodology]

Tags: APhMS honors MCE Harry Atwater CMS ESE Paul Wennberg John Seinfeld Joel Tropp Kerry Vahala Richard Murray

Resonate Awards Honor Global Champions of Sustainability


The Resnick Sustainability Institute has announced five innovators in the fields of energy science and sustainability as the inaugural winners of the Resonate Awards. "We are committed to finding scalable long-term solutions to some of the biggest energy and environmental problems facing the world today," says Harry Atwater, the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science and director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute. "We started the Resonate Awards because we realized that there is an urgent need to recognize and promote the advances of sustainability innovators." [2014 Resonate Award Winners] [Caltech Release]

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Quantum Photon Properties Revealed in Another Particle—the Plasmon


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science as well as Director of the Resnick Sustainability Institute, and colleagues’ experiments have confirmed that two indistinguishable photons can be converted into two indistinguishable surface plasmons that, like photons, display quantum interference. This finding could be important for the development of quantum computing, says Atwater. "Remarkably, plasmons are coherent enough to exhibit quantum interference in waveguides," he says. "These plasmon waveguides can be integrated in compact chip-based devices and circuits, which may one day enable computation and measurement schemes based on quantum interference." [Caltech Release]

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Nanoscale Materials and Big Solar Energy


As a high school student during the oil crisis of the 1970s, Professor Harry Atwater recognized firsthand the impact of energy supply issues. Inspired to contribute to renewable energies, his research at Caltech today works to develop better thin-film photovoltaics—cheaper, lighter, more efficient alternatives to the bulky cells now used in solar panels. [Interview with Professor Atwater]

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