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New Insight into Nonlinear Optical Resonators Unlocks Door to Numerous Potential Applications

02-25-21

Devices known as optical parametric oscillators are among the widely used nonlinear resonators in optics; they are "nonlinear" in that there is light flowing into the system and light leaking out, but not at the same wavelengths. Though these oscillators are useful in a variety of applications, including in quantum optics experiments, the physics that underpins how their output wavelength, or spectrum, behaves is not well understood. "When you add strong nonlinearity to resonators, you enter what we call a 'rich physics regime,'" says Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics. "'Rich' in physics terms usually means complicated and hard to use, but we need nonlinearities to create useful functionalities such as switching for computing." To be able to make full use of nonlinear optical resonators, researchers want to be able to understand and model the physics that underpin how they work. Marandi and his colleagues recently uncovered a potential way to engineer those rich physics, while discovering phase transitions in the light that is generated by the resonators. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights KNI Alireza Marandi

Paul Rothemund Places Molecule-Scale Devices in Precise Orientation

02-22-21

Paul Rothemund, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Computation and Neural Systems, has developed a technique that allows him to precisely place microscopic devices formed from folded DNA molecules in not only a specific location but also in a specific orientation. This method for precisely placing and orienting DNA-based molecular devices may make it possible to use these molecular devices to power new kinds of chips that integrate molecular biosensors with optics and electronics for applications such as DNA sequencing or measuring the concentrations of thousands of proteins at once. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Paul Rothemund KNI CNS

Professor Wei Gao Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

02-16-21

Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry for 2021. Recipients represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders. [Past Fellows] [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors MedE KNI Wei Gao

Caltech and NTT Research Launch Collaboration to Develop World’s Fastest Coherent Ising Machine

01-25-21

Researchers from Caltech and NTT Research are collaborating to develop a high-speed Coherent Ising Machine (CIM). A CIM is a network of optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) programmed to solve problems that have been mapped to an Ising model, which is a mathematical abstraction of magnetic systems composed of competitively interacting spins, or angular momentums of fundamental particles. The principal investigator at Caltech for this four-and-a-half-year joint project is Kerry Vahala, Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and Applied Physics; Executive Officer for Applied Physics and Materials Science. “We are delighted at the prospect of working with Professor Vahala to develop an extremely small and high-speed CIM,” said NTT Research PHI Lab Director, Yoshihisa Yamamoto. “This work will advance our understanding of the CIM’s capabilities, map well with ongoing and related work with other institutions, provide new demonstrations of this awesomely powerful new information system and, we hope, set standards for the CIM’s speed and size.” [NTT Research story] [Business Wire story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Kerry Vahala KNI

Studying Chaos with One of the World's Fastest Cameras

01-14-21

There are things in life that can be predicted reasonably well. The tides rise and fall. A billiard ball bounces around a table according to orderly geometry. And then there are things that defy easy prediction: The hurricane that changes direction without warning. The splashing of water in a fountain. These phenomena and others like them can be described as chaotic systems. Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed a new tool that might help to better understand chaotic systems. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Tiny Shape-Shifting Polymers Developed for Potential Medical Applications

01-04-21

Julia Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, has developed a process for generating three-dimensional architected polymers with heat-dependent "shape memory" properties: that is, when heated, the material folds and unfolds itself into a new preordained shape. These shape memory polymers could one day be used to perform complex tasks inside the human body, such as unclogging a blocked artery or pulling out a blood clot. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE Julia Greer KNI Luizetta Elliott

Lihong Wang Named to National Academy of Inventors

12-10-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has been named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Election as a fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. The Wang lab has developed photoacoustic imaging that allows researchers to see into biological tissues noninvasively, and to peer deeper into the body by nearly two orders of magnitude compared to conventional optical microscopy. [Caltech story] [List of 2020 Fellows]

Tags: EE honors MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Lihong Wang Receives NIH BRAIN Grant

12-07-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has received funding for neuroscience projects from the National Institutes of Health's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Wang and his team aim to develop a technology called 3D photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) that will rapidly image large-scale neural activity in human brains with high sensitivity. "Photoacoustic imaging of adult human brains is one of the most challenging frontiers in our field," says Wang. "It requires innovation to overcome the signal attenuation and wavefront distortion due to the skull. I'm glad that the NIH has the vision to fund this worthy research direction." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang

Titanium Atom That Exists in Two Places at Once in Crystal to Blame for Unusual Phenomenon

12-07-20

Crystals are usually good at conducting heat. By definition, their atomic structure is highly organized, which allows atomic vibrations—heat—to flow through them as a wave. Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has discovered why a perfect crystal is not good at conducting heat, although it seemingly should be. "We have found that quantum mechanical effects can play a huge role in setting the thermal transport properties of materials even under familiar conditions like room temperature," says Austin Minnich. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE KNI Austin Minnich

Ultrafast Camera Films 3-D Movies at 100 Billion Frames Per Second

10-19-20

Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed technology that can reach blistering speeds of 70 trillion frames per second, fast enough to see light travel. Just like the camera in your cell phone, though, it can only produce flat images. Now, Wang's lab has gone a step further to create a camera that not only records video at incredibly fast speeds but does so in three dimensions. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang