News & Events

Headlines

Changhuei Yang Develops "Microscope on a Chip"

07-28-08

Changhuei Yang, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have turned science fiction into reality with their development of a super-compact high-resolution microscope, small enough to fit on a finger tip. This "microscopic microscope" operates without lenses but has the magnifyingpower of a top-quality optical microscope, can be used in the field to analyze blood samples for malaria or check water supplies for giardia and other pathogens, and can be mass-produced for around $10. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights Changhuei Yang MedE health

Simona Bordoni and Tapio Schneider Offer New Explanation for Monsoon Development

07-25-08

Tapio Schneider, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, has come up with a new explanation for the formation of monsoons. Schneider and colleague Simona Bordoni, who will start as an assistant professor at Caltech in 2009, propose an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights ESE Simona Bordoni Tapio Schneider

 
Jeff Snyder and Colleagues Invent New Material that Will Make Cars More Efficient

07-25-08

Caltech Faculty Associate Jeff Snyder and colleagues have invented a new material that will make cars even more efficient by converting heat lost through engine exhaust into electricity. In a paper published July 25 in the journal Science, the scientists describe the unique thermoelectric material, which has twice the efficiency other such materials currently on the market, and works most effectively in the temperature range typical of automobile engines. The same technology could also work in power generators and heat pumps. Read more at www.sciencemag.org.

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Jeff Snyder

Axel van de Walle Developes Formalism to Represent Structure-property Relationships in Crystals

07-11-08

Axel van de Walle, Assistant Professor of Materials Science, has developed a general formalism to represent structure-property relationships in crystals. It enables the prediction, from a database of quantum mechanical calculations, of anisotropic material properties such as elasticity, piezoelectricity, dielectric constants, etc. As an application, he developed predictive models of anisotropic properties relevant to the design and optimization of III–V semiconductor epitaxial optoelectronic devices. This work was recently highlighted as the cover feature of Nature Materials. [Nature Article] [Commentary]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Axel van de Walle

Melissa Saenz and Christof Koch Show that Sight Recovery After Blindness Offers New Insights on Brain Reorganization

05-29-08

Studies of the brains of blind persons whose sight was partially restored later in life have produced a compelling example of the brain's ability to adapt to new circumstances and rewire and reconfigure itself. The research, conducted by postdoctoral researcher Melissa Saenz along with Christof Koch, the Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology and professor of computation and neural systems, and their colleagues, shows that the part of the brain that processes visual information in normal individuals can be co-opted to respond to both visual and auditory information. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health Christof Koch postdocs

Art of Science Competition

05-29-08

The winners of Caltech's first Art of Science Competition have been announced.

Tags: honors

 
Chemistry of Airborne Particulate—Lung Interactions Revealed by Agustin Colussi and Colleagues

05-26-08

Agustin J. Colussi, senior research associate in environmental science and engineering, and colleagues have found that airborne particulates impair the lungs' naturaldefenses against ozone. Their research focused on what happens when air meets the thin layer of antioxidant-rich fluid that covers our lungs, protecting them from ozone, an air pollutant that pervades major cities. "We found new chemistry at the interfaces separating gases from liquids using a technique that continuously monitors the composition of these interfaces," Colussi says. Under normal physiological conditions, ascorbic acid instantly scavenges ozone, generating innocuous byproducts. However, the researchers discovered that when the fluid is acidic, a pathological condition found in asthmatics, ascorbic acid instead reacts with ozone to form potentially harmful compounds called ozonides.

Tags: research highlights health ESE Agustin Colussi

 
CACR Helps Open the Universe in "WorldWide Telescope"

05-25-08

World Wide Telescope (WWT), a new Microsoft product, combines cosmic imagery and educational content from many sources, including major ground-based sky surveys. A significant portion of the data was processed at Caltech's Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR). [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights

Michael Elowitz Named HHMI Investigator

05-13-08

Michael Elowitz, Assistant Professor of Biology and Applied Physics and a Bren Scholar, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator. Elowitz is fundamentally interested in how cells' own genetic circuits dictate what type of cells they become. In work that overturned the steadfastnotion that genes and networks of genes operate in a predictable and fixed fashion, he and his colleagues showed that key properties of the cell, like how actively it turns out different proteins, are intrinsically random. To show that randomness is used to more accurately control the shapes and patterns that make organisms work, Elowitz is turning to larger and more complex animal cells. "I'm grateful to HHMI for the amazing opportunity this appointment presents to focus as much as possible on research. The funds will enable us to explore new directions, especially allowing us to expand approaches we've previously developed primarily in bacteria to mammalian cells." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS honors health Michael Elowitz

Mani Chandy, Mathieu Desbrun, and Joel Tropp Win ASCIT Prize

05-13-08

Mani Chandy, Simon Ramo Professor and Professor of Computer Science, Mathieu Desbrun, Associate Professor of Computational Science and Engineering and Computer Science, and Joel Tropp, Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, have been recognized as exceptional teachers by the students at Caltech. Each has won a 2007-2008 ASCIT prize, awarded by the undergraduate Academics and Research Committee (ARC) and the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology (ASCIT). This award is bestowed upon only five faculty members each year.

Tags: honors CMS Mathieu Desbrun Joel Tropp Kanianthra Mani Chandy ASCIT Prize