News & Events

Headlines

Startup Company Captura Receives XPRIZE Award

04-25-22

Caltech-based startup company Captura, which captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from ocean water to combat climate change, has been awarded $1 million from the XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. Captura was co-founded by Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, and Chengxiang "CX" Xiang, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science. It has the potential to scale up to harvesting gigatons of carbon dioxide—that is, billions of tons—from the ocean every year. "As far as we can tell, Captura is one the very few companies that is doing carbon capture from ocean water," Xiang says. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater Chengxiang Xiang

Student-Led Lunar Architecture Team Named Finalist in NASA Competition for Second Consecutive Year

04-12-22

Caused by collisions from asteroids, comets, and other astronomical objects, lunar craters give our moon its characteristic pockmarked façade. These craters hold the materials necessary for building sustained human settlements on the moon. Accessing the materials inside lunar craters is no easy task. NASA seeks new ways of getting around the moon that do not rely on wheels. The agency's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks university teams to go beyond wheeled rovers and create new solutions to the problem of traversing lunar craters. A team of more than 30 Caltech undergraduates in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science is among seven 2022 BIG Idea finalists. [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater CMS Soon-Jo Chung Brit Wylie Luis Pabon Rithvik Musuku Kaila Coimbra Polina Verkhovodova Tyler Colenbrander Lucas Pabarcius Calle Junker Sravani Boggaram Matticus Brown Sean Chang Bobby Daigle Nico Jimenez-Lozano Alec Laprevotte Joshua Lee Moya Ly Amrita Mayavaram Robert Menezes Nathan Ng Dilichi Nwankwo Jedi Alindogan Diego Attra Sulekha Kishore Aramis Mendoza Winter Pearson Jules Penot Kemal Pulungan Purvi Sehgal Parul Singh Aiden Swann Malcolm Tisdale Tomas Wexler Brooklyn Williams Benjamin Zeng Isabella Zuniga

American Institute of Mathematics Moves to Caltech

03-28-22

The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), an independent nonprofit organization funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is moving to Caltech's campus from its current home in the Bay Area. AIM organizes and funds focused collaborations among pure and applied mathematicians, theoretical biologists, computer scientists, physicists, and other scientists working on long-standing math problems. "The arrival of AIM at Caltech will build new bridges between math, applied math, and computational science, and will shine a spotlight on the role that mathematical thinking plays across all our departments and options," says Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance. [Caltech story]

Tags: Harry Atwater CMS Christopher Umans Omer Tamuz

Nano-architected Material Refracts Light Backward—An Important Step Toward One Day Creating Photonic Circuits

02-01-22

A newly created nano-architected material exhibits a property that previously was just theoretically possible: it can refract light backward, regardless of the angle at which the light strikes the material. "Negative refraction is crucial to the future of nanophotonics, which seeks to understand and manipulate the behavior of light when it interacts with materials or solid structures at the smallest possible scales," says Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Harry Atwater Julia Greer Victoria Chernow Siying Peng Ryan Ng

Harry Atwater Elected Optica Fellow

11-08-21

Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, has been elected as Optica Fellow. Since 1959, over 2,800 members have joined the ranks of Fellow. These members have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics through distinguished contributions to education, research, engineering, business and society. [Elected Fellows]

Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater

Harry Atwater Receives Von Hippel Award

11-02-21

Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, received the 2021 Von Hippel Award, the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honor. Atwater is being recognized “for fundamental research in light-matter interactions—particularly nanophotonics, plasmonics, photonic metamaterials, and solar energy conversion—and numerous applications of photon control of materials illustrating the value of fundamental research to technologies that improve the quality of life.” The Von Hippel Award recognizes those qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines, as exemplified by the life of Arthur von Hippel. [MRS story]

Tags: APhMS honors Harry Atwater KNI

Controlling Light with a Material Three Atoms Thick

10-22-21

Scientists can control light more precisely than ever with a material only three atoms thick and constructed from so-called black phosphorous. In the lab of Harry Atwater, Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science; Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Liquid Sunlight Alliance, three layers of phosphorous atoms were used to create a material for polarizing light that is tunable, precise, and extremely thin. Black phosphorous tech could revolutionize telecommunications by vastly improving light signals sent through fiber-optic cables. The technology could also open the door to a light-based replacement for Wi-Fi, something researchers in the field refer to as Li-Fi. "Increasingly, we're going to be looking at light-wave communications in free space," Atwater says. "Lighting like this very cool-looking lamp above my desk doesn't carry any communication signal. It just provides light. But there's no reason that you couldn't sit in a future Starbucks and have your laptop taking a light signal for its wireless communication rather than a radio signal. It's not quite here yet, but when it gets here, it will be at least a hundred times faster than Wi-Fi." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater KNI

New EAS Division Chair Announced

04-15-21

Harry A. Atwater, the Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science and director of the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA), has been selected as the new chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. On July 1, he will begin his five-year term, taking over the Otis Booth Leadership Chair from current division chair Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, the John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. After more than three decades at Caltech, Atwater says he's looking forward to the opportunity to serve the Institute in a new way. "I'm excited to be able to pay back or pay forward all of the investments that Caltech has made in me," he says. "I'm excited to try to do what I can to catalyze research initiatives that my colleagues are excited to lead, and to make the division as strong and distinctive as possible." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors GALCIT MCE Harry Atwater Guruswami Ravichandran

Collecting Hot Carriers: New Process Harvests Excited Quasiparticles

08-12-20

Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, has developed a way to eke more energy out of solar power by collecting freshly charged particles before they have an opportunity to cool off. This fundamental research could one day help scientists harvest energy from the sun more efficiently than by the natural photosynthesis used by plants. "If hot carriers, transporting more energy, could be captured, we would be able to wring three to four times as much energy from solar power," says Atwater. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Harry Atwater KNI

Caltech Mourns Passing of Manuel "Manny" Soriaga

07-19-19

Manuel P. Soriaga, Research Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, passed away on July 17, 2019. As a principal investigator in Caltech's Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), Soriaga studied electrochemical reactions that make artificial photosynthesis possible. "Manny’s accomplishments as a surface scientist were peerless and of the highest quality, and he made essential and indispensable contributions to JCAP’s mission," says Professor Harry Atwater. "All who knew him well will also remember with fondness the warmth and humor that he brought to his work and life." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EAS history Harry Atwater JCAP Manuel Soriaga