Optical Microcomb Device May Result in Improved Telecommunications, Sensors, Clocks
Modern telecommunications often makes use of multiple lasers of different colors to transmit data, but a new device the size of a cigarette pack can replace them. A team of researchers from Caltech, UC Santa Barbara, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a new device that will lead to improved optical data transmission and could have applications ranging from communications to the miniaturization of time standards or to the search for exoplanets. Their device converts laser light of a single frequency into an evenly spaced set of many distinct frequencies (a comb of frequencies). The resulting optical frequency microcomb is built from a single piece of silicon, in much the same way as computer chips. And its many colors can replace many separate lasers for data transmission. "The new approach makes the process as easy as switching on a room light," says co-author Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics and executive officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science. [Caltech story]
Wei Gao Receives IEEE EMBS Academic Early Career Achievement Award
Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has won the 2020 IEEE EMBS Academic Early Career Achievement Award for innovative and pioneering contributions in the field of bioelectronic devices from wearable biosensors for continuous personalized health monitoring to synthetic micro/nanorobotics for in vivo biomedical applications. This award is given annually to an individual for significant contributions to the field of biomedical engineering as evidenced by innovative research design, product development, patents, and/or publications made by an individual who is within 10 years of completing their highest degree at the time of the nomination.
126th Commencement Ceremony
Caltech’s 126th commencement ceremony was held virtually on Friday, June 12, 2020, honoring graduates with 454 degrees—207 earning bachelor's degrees, 101 earning master's degrees, and 146 earning PhD degrees. Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum opened the ceremony, noting the unusual circumstances of the event and emphasizing that "even in separation, community can triumph." The program kicked off with a video montage of well-wishers, including Caltech Nobel laureate Frances Arnold, Caltech faculty and staff members, and Modern Family actress Ariel Winter. The speakers congratulated the grads and anticipated successful careers filled with notable achievements. In concluding, Harry Gray, Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and founding director of the Beckman Institute, urged graduates to "have a little fun along the way." [Watch the Ceremony] [Caltech story]
ASCIT Teaching Award
Michael Mello, Teaching Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, has been chosen by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT) to receive a 2019-2020 ASCIT Teaching Award. These awards recognize individuals who inspire and motivate students, are approachable, and present course material effectively and efficiently.
IRCA Best Paper Awards
Two teams of Caltech researchers have won three International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Awards in multiple categories along with the overall best paper award. The ICRA is the largest and most prestigious robotics conference of the year. Awards are given on the basis of technical merit, originality, potential impact on the field, clarity of the written paper, and quality of the presentation. Maegan Tucker, Ellen Novoseller, Claudia Kann, Yanan Sui, Yisong Yue, Joel Burdick, and Aaron Ames, have won the ICRA Best Conference Paper Award and the ICRA Best Paper Award on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) for their paper entitled "Preference-Based Learning for Exoskeleton Gait Optimization." Amanda Bouman, Paul Nadan, Matthew Anderson, Daniel Pastor, Jacob Izraelevitz, Joel Burdick, and Brett Kennedy, have won the ICRA Best Paper Award on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for their paper entitled "Design and Autonomous Stabilization of a Ballistically Launched Multirotor." [Virtual Award Ceremony]