News & Events


Graduate Student Wins Best Paper Prize


Electrical Engineering graduate student Chun-Lin Liu, working with Professor Vaidyanathan, has received the best paper prize for his paper entitle, “High Order Super Nested Arrays". The prize was presented to him at the 2016 IEEE Sensor Array and Multichannel Signal Processing Workshop. [Read the paper]

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New Breed of Optical Soliton Wave Discovered


Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics, and colleagues have discovered a new type of optical soliton wave that travels in the wake of other soliton waves, hitching a ride on and feeding off of the energy of the other wave. Solitons are localized waves that act like particles. Professor Vahala likens these newly discovered solitons to pilot fish, carnivorous tropical fish that swim next to a shark so they can pick up scraps from the shark's meals. And by swimming in the shark's wake, the pilot fish reduce the drag of water on their own body, so they can travel with less effort. [Caltech story]

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Professor Pierce Elected Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford


Niles A. Pierce, Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, has been elected to the 74th Eastman Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford. Professor Pierce is working to engineer molecular instruments capable of reading out and regulating the state of endogenous biological circuitry from within intact organisms. The Eastman Professorship is one of the world's most respected visiting professorships, bringing a distinguished American scholar to Oxford each year. It was established in 1929 from an endowment established by George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Eastman Professorship has previously been held by four Caltech professors: Linus Pauling (1948), George Beadle (1958-59), J.F. Bonner (1963-64), and Harry Gray (1997-98).

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Counting on Grains of Sand


José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth. [Caltech story]

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The Utility of Instability


Professors Dennis M. Kochmann and Chiara Daraio along with colleagues from Harvard have designed and created mechanical chains made of soft matter that can transmit signals across long distances. Because they are flexible, the circuits could be used in machines such as soft robots or lightweight aircraft constructed from pliable, nonmetallic materials. "Engineers tend to shy away from instability. "Though there are many applications, the fundamental principles that we explore are most exciting to me," Kochmann says. "These nonlinear systems show very similar behavior to materials at the atomic scale but these are difficult to access experimentally or computationally. Now we have built a simple macroscale analogue that mimics how they behave." [Caltech story]

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Richard Murray Named to DOD Panel on Innovation


Richard M. Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, has been named to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Professor Murray joins 14 other scholars and innovators who will focus on new technologies and organizational behavior and culture. Secretary Carter has asked them to identify technology and practices from the private sector that could be used by the Department of Defense (DOD). [Caltech story]

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Improving Computer Graphics with Quantum Mechanics


The Schrödinger equation, the basic description of quantum mechanical behavior, can be used to describe the motion of superfluids—fluids, supercooled to temperatures near absolute zero, that behave as though they are without viscosity. Professor Peter Schröder and his colleagues realized that the same equation with some small modifications can also be used to describe vorticity dominated phenomena of fluids at the macroscopic level--from smoke gently rising from a flame to the concentrated vorticity of a twister. [Caltech story & video]

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Counting L.A.’s Trees


Professor Pietro Perona, has developed a method using Google Earth and Google Street View to count the trees in the city of Los Angeles. The process of counting the trees using human tree counters is very expensive and would cost about $3 million today. The last time the city did such counting was more than two decades ago and at the time there were 700,000 street trees. Perona has tested the methodology in a section of Pasadena where the city recently commissioned a sidewalk survey. By comparing the results to the known inventory, he determined that the computer was about 80% accurate. [LA Times story] [KPCC story]

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Professor Schroeder Receives Award for Best Paper in Geometry Processing


Peter Schroeder, Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, and colleagues have received the best paper award at the 2016 Symposium on Geometry Processing for their paper entitled, Splines in the Space of Shells. [Read the paper]

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Division of Engineering and Applied Science