News & Events


Compaction Bands in Sandstone are Permeable


José E. Andrade, Associate Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated. Their paper provides the first permeability calculations based on actual rock samples taken directly from the field in the Valley of Fire, Nevada. They conclude that these formations are not as impermeable as previously believed, and that therefore their ability to trap fluids—like oil, gas, and CO2—should be measured based on 3D images taken from the field. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: energy research highlights MCE Jose Andrade

Converting Heat into Electricity in Space and on Earth - High-Performance Bulk Thermoelectrics


Jeff Snyder, Faculty Associate in Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have developed a thermoelectric material that might be able to operate off nothing more than the heat of a car's exhaust. "You'll see applications wherever there's a solid-state advantage," Snyder predicts. "One example is the charging system. The electricity to keep your car's battery charged is generated by the alternator, a mechanical device driven by a rubber belt powered by the crankshaft. You've got friction, slippage, strain, internal resistance, wear and tear, and weight, in addition to the mechanical energy extracted to make the electricity. Just replacing that one subsystem with a thermoelectric solution could instantly improve a car's fuel efficiency by 10 percent." [Caltech Press Release]

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Graduate Student Minghong Lin Named Finalist in Facebook Fellowship Program


Minghong Lin, graduate student working with Professor Wierman, has been named a finalist in the Facebook Fellowship Program. This is an extremely competitive program that seeks to support Ph.D. students doing groundbreaking research in computer science. Minghong became a finalist for his research on improving the energy-efficiency of data centers.

Tags: honors energy CMS Adam Wierman Minghong Lin

Caltech Students Meet the Volts


At a special event entitled "Meet the Volts" students had the opportunity to learn about the evolution of electric vehicles from Kent Kresa, Chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees and former Interim Chairman of GM's Board of Directors. Also, presenting at the event was Larry Nitz, GM's Executive Director of Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Engineering, who discussed the propulsion technology that makes the Volt, GM's new electric car, unique. [Watch the Presentations

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Tags: energy Kent Kresa Larry Nitz Tom Mannion electric vehicle

New Reactor Paves the Way for Efficiently Producing Fuel from Sunlight


Sossina Haile, Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, and colleagues have built a reactor at the heart of which is a cylindrical lining of ceria—a metal oxide. The reactor takes advantage of ceria's ability to "exhale" oxygen from its crystalline framework at very high temperatures and then "inhale" oxygen back in at lower temperatures - concentrating solar energy in order to convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels .  Ultimately, Haile says, the process could be adopted in large-scale energy plants, allowing solar-derived power to be reliably available during the day and night. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Sossina Haile fuel metal oxide reactor

Amnon Yariv Awarded National Medal of Science


Amnon Yariv, Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Electrical Engineering, has received one of the highest honors bestowed by the United States government on scientists, and engineers. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science. Professor Yariv's research group has pioneered the field of optoelectronics. Many innovations such as distributed Feedback (DFB) Semiconductor Lasers, Integrated Optoelectronic Circuits, Optical Phase Conjugation, External Cavity Tunable Semiconductor Lasers, Quantum Well Infrared Photodetectors (QWIP's), and all-fiber add/drop filters have found their beginnings in his research group. Currently, his group’s research aims at developing the new technologies that will be mandated by the seemingly endless appetite for optical bandwidth. Specifically, they are working at extending, to the field of laser optics, some key ideas that form the foundation of the microwaves and the radio frequencies fields. [Caltech Press Release], [White House Press Release] [Watch the White House Cermony]

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2010 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, along with colleagues Nate Lewis, George L. Argyros Professor and Professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Michael Kelzenberg are recipients of a 2010 Breakthrough Award by Popular Mechanics for their work on flexible solar cells. [Popular Mechanics Article]

Tags: APhMS honors energy research highlights Popular Mechanics Harry Atwater Nate Lewis Michael Kelzenberg

Energy Innovation Hub


A $122 million Energy Innovation Hub, aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight, is to be directed by Nate Lewis, George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry. The leadership team also includes Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and Director of the Resnick Institute; and Bruce S. Brunschwig, Director of the Beckman Institute Molecular Materials Resource Center. The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) will be located in two California-based sites, operated under a unified management structure. The Southern California site is on the Caltech campus, and the Northern California site is at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: energy Harry Atwater Nate Lewis Bruce Brunschwig

Novel Negative-Index Metamaterial that Responds to Visible Light


Stanley Burgos, researcher at the Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion Energy Frontier Research Center, Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, and colleagues have engineered a novel negative-index metamaterial that responds to visible light. This material bends light in the "wrong" direction from what normally would be expected, irrespective of the angle of the approaching light. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Harry Atwater Stanley Burgos

Harry Atwater Awarded Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience


Harry A. Atwater, Jr., Howard Hughes Professor and Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science, has been awarded the Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience by the Materials Research Society. His lecture was entitled "Bending Light to Our Will: Nanophotonic Structures for Terawatt-Scale Solar Energy Conversion." [MRS Article]

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