News & Events


EAS Remembers Hans Wolfgang Liepmann


Hans Wolfgang Liepmann, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics, Emeritus, passed away at the age of 94 on June 24. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology. He mentored more than 60 students became leaders in the aerospace industry as well as universities around the world. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: GALCIT EAS history Hans Liepmann

Chameau Announces Initiative for a New $90 Million Sustainability Institute


On June 12, 2009 president Jean-Lou Chameau announced $30 million in gifts as the first phase of a proposed $90 million initiative for a new institute. The funds will go towards the creation of the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: Caltech infrastructure Jean-Lou Chameau

LaHaye, Schwab, and Roukes Develop New Tool to Search for Quantum Effects


Dr. Matt LaHaye, Professor Keith Schwab, Professor Michael Roukes, and colleagues have developed a new tool to search for quantum effects in ordinary objects. Matt LaHaye is a postdoctoral research scientist working with Michael L. Roukes, a Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering and Codirector of Kavli Nanoscience Institute. "Quantum jumps are, perhaps, the archetypal signature of behavior governed by quantum effects," says Roukes. "To see these requires us to engineer a special kind of interaction between our measurement apparatus and the object being measured. Matt's results establish a practical and really intriguing way to make this happen." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Roukes Keith Schwab postdocs

Kent and Joyce Kresa Endow Professorial Chair at Caltech


Kent Kresa, interim chairman of General Motors, and his wife have pledged $2 million to Caltech to endow the Joyce and Kent Kresa Professorship in Engineering and Applied Science. Kresa is chairman of the Caltech Board of Trustees. The Kresa gift is matched with an additional $1 million provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Matching Program. "Endowed chairs offer our faculty the ultimate freedom to pursue the research thrusts they are most passionate about—and this is truly invaluable to Caltech and our continued vitality," said Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering and chair of the EAS Division. [Caltech Press Release]

Oskar Painter Developes a Nanoscale Device


Oskar Painter, Associate Professor of Applied Physics, has developed a nanoscale device that can be used for force detection, optical communication, and more. The nanoscale device is called a zipper cavity because of the way its dual cantilevers-or nanobeams, as Painter calls them-move together and apart when the device is in use. "If you look at it, it actually looks like a zipper," Painter notes. The device exploits the mechanical properties of light to create an optomechanical cavity in which interactions between light and motion are greatly strengthened and enhanced. These interactions are the largest demonstrated to date. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Oskar Painter

Dickinson Reveales that the Twirling Seeds of Maple Trees Spin Like Miniature Helicopters As They Fall to the Ground


Research by Michael H. Dickinson, the Zarem Professor of Bioengineering and David Lentink of Wageningen, reveals that, by swirling, maple seeds generate a tornado-like vortex that sits atop the front leading edge of the seeds as they spin slowly to the ground. This leading-edge vortex lowers the air pressure over the upper surface of the maple seed, effectively sucking the wing upward to oppose gravity, giving it a boost. The vortex doubles the lift generated by the seeds compared to nonswirling seeds. "There is enormous interest in the development of micro air vehicles, which, because of their size, must function using the same physical principles employed by small, natural flying devices such as insects and maple seeds," says Dickinson. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights Michael Dickinson

Michael Winterrose and Brent Fultz Use High-Pressure "Alchemy" to Create Nonexpanding Metals


Graduate student Michael Winterrose, and Brent Fultz, professor of materials science and applied physics, and colleagues, describe the exotic behavior of materials existing at high pressures in a paper in the June 12th issue of Physical Review Letters. By squeezing a typical metal alloy at pressures hundreds of thousands of times greater than normal atmospheric pressure, the material does not expand when heated, as does nearly every normal metal, and acts like a metal with an entirely different chemical composition. This insight into the behavior of materials existing at high pressures becomes doubly interesting when you consider that some 90 percent of the matter in our solar system exists at these high pressures. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Brent Fultz

Robert McEliece Wins IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal


Robert McEliece, Allen E. Puckett Professor and Professor of Electrical Engineering, has won the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal for exceptional contributions to the advancement of communications sciences and engineering. In particular, McEliece is being recognized for fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of error-correcting codes and to the design of deep space telecommunication systems.

Tags: EE honors Robert McEliece

G. Ravichandran Elected Fellow of the Society of Experimental Mechanics


Professor G. Ravichandran, the John E. Goode, Jr. Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, and Director of GALCIT has been elected Fellow of the Society of Experimental Mechanics. Designation as an SEM Fellow is reserved to a select group of individuals that have made notable contributions to the Society and to the field of Experimental Mechanics.

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Guruswami Ravichandran

Caltech's 115th Commencement Ceremony


Caltech's 115th Commencement Ceremony was held on Friday, June 12th. The graduates were addressed by Steven Chu, renowned physicist, U.S. Secretary of Energy, and Nobel Laureate.

Tags: Commencement