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Compaction Bands in Sandstone are Permeable

06-06-11

José E. Andrade, Associate Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated. Their paper provides the first permeability calculations based on actual rock samples taken directly from the field in the Valley of Fire, Nevada. They conclude that these formations are not as impermeable as previously believed, and that therefore their ability to trap fluids—like oil, gas, and CO2—should be measured based on 3D images taken from the field. [Caltech Press Release]

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S.O.S.! Surviving The Big Quake

06-06-11

Swaminathan Krishnan, Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering and Geophysics, is featured in an American Institute of Physics Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science video to increase awareness about and appreciation for earthquakes.  [Watch the video

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Largest Biochemical Circuit Built Out of Small Synthetic DNA Molecules

06-02-11

Lulu Qian, Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Bioengineering, and colleagues including Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, have built the most complex biochemical circuit ever created from scratch made with DNA-based devices in a test tube that are analogous to the electronic transistors on a computer chip."We're trying to borrow the ideas that have had huge success in the electronic world, such as abstract representations of computing operations, programming languages, and compilers, and apply them to the biomolecular world," says Dr. Qian. [Caltech Press Release]

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French Republic Knights Professor Ravichandran

05-26-11

G. Ravichandran, John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aerospace and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories (GALCIT) has been selected to receive the Chevalier de l'ordre des Palmes Académiques, which is the Knight grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms. Founded by Napoleon in 1808 to honor educators and scholars,  this distinction recognizes eminent personalities who have made significant contributions to the development of French culture, science, and education.  

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Converting Heat into Electricity in Space and on Earth - High-Performance Bulk Thermoelectrics

05-23-11

Jeff Snyder, Faculty Associate in Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a thermoelectric material that might be able to operate off nothing more than the heat of a car's exhaust. "You'll see applications wherever there's a solid-state advantage," Snyder predicts. "One example is the charging system. The electricity to keep your car's battery charged is generated by the alternator, a mechanical device driven by a rubber belt powered by the crankshaft. You've got friction, slippage, strain, internal resistance, wear and tear, and weight, in addition to the mechanical energy extracted to make the electricity. Just replacing that one subsystem with a thermoelectric solution could instantly improve a car's fuel efficiency by 10 percent." [Caltech Press Release]

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Stimulating Electrode Array Assists Paraplegic Man to Stand and Move Legs Voluntarily

05-20-11

Joel W. Burdick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, have used a stimulating electrode array to assist a paralyzed man to stand, step on a treadmill with assistance, and, over time, to regain voluntary movements of his limbs. Using a combination of experimentation, computational models of the array and spinal cord, and machine-learning algorithms, Professor Burdick and his colleagues are now trying to optimize the stimulation pattern to achieve the best effects, and to improve the design of the electrode array. Further advances in the technology should lead to better control of the stepping and standing processes. [Caltech Press Release]

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Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms

05-19-11

Sandra M. Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues' experiments have confirmed which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of three-dimensional (3-D) pillar arrays in nanofilms (polymer films that are billionths of a meter thick). "My ultimate goal is to develop a suite of 3-D lithographic techniques based on remote, digital modulation of thermal, electrical, and magnetic surface forces," Troian says. Confirmation of the correct mechanism has allowed her to deduce the maximum resolution or minimum feature size ultimately possible with these patterning techniques. [Caltech Press Release]

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Professor Wierman Receives ACM SIGMETRICS Rising Star Researcher Award

05-18-11

Adam Wierman, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, is the recipient of the 2011 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) SIGMETRICS Rising Star Researcher Award.  The award recognizes his outstanding contributions in the design and analysis of scheduling policies, which provided fundamental insights into scheduling and fairness in modern computing systems.  

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Professor Tropp Receives SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize

05-16-11

Joel A. Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, is a recipient of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) 2011 Outstanding Paper Prize for his paper entitled The Metric Nearness Problem. The prizes are given for outstanding papers published in SIAM journals during the three years prior to the year of the award. [Read the paper]

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Undergraduate Receives Fulbright to Study Biophysics of RNA in Denmark

05-13-11

Pradeep Ramesh, a senior undergraduate student working with Rob Phillips, Professor of Biophysics and Biology, has received a Fulbright fellowship to work in an experimental Biophysics lab at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen under the guidance of Professor Lene B. Oddershede. He plans to study the collision and queuing of RNA polymerases during transcription using optical tweezers and atomic-force microscopes.  

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