News & Events


A Method to Map Brain Circuits in Real Time


A new approach called integrated neurophotonics could allow researchers to track the activity of all the neurons that make up a particular brain circuit. To deepen their understanding of the brain, neuroscientists must be able to map in great detail the neural circuits that are responsible for tasks such as processing sensory information or forming new memories. Now, a new approach may allow for the activity of all of the thousands to millions of neurons within a particular brain circuit to be observed in real time. Dense recording at depth—that is the key," says Michael Roukes, Frank J. Roshek Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering. [Caltech story]

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New Device Powers Wearable Sensors Through Human Motion


Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of Medical Engineering, has been developing sensors as well as novel approaches to power them. Previously, he created a sensor that could monitor health indicators in human sweat that is powered by sweat itself. Now, Gao has developed a new way to power wireless wearable sensors: He harvests kinetic energy that is produced by a person as they move around. "Instead of using fancy materials, we use commercially available flexible circuit boards," he says. "This material is cheap and very durable and mechanically robust over long periods of time." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MedE Wei Gao

Machine Learning Speeds Up Quantum Chemistry Calculations


A new quantum chemistry tool, called OrbNet, uses machine learning, quantum-chemistry calculations that can be performed 1,000 times faster than previously possible, allowing accurate quantum chemistry research to be performed faster than ever before. OrbNet was developed through a partnership between Tom Miller, Professor of Chemistry, and Anima Anandkumar, Bren Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences. [Caltech story]

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Professor Gao Unveils Sensor that Rapidly Detects COVID-19 Infection Status, Severity, and Immunity


One feature of the COVID-19 virus that makes it so difficult to contain is that it can be easily spread to others by a person who has yet to show any signs of infection. Professor Wei Gao has developed a new type of multiplexed test (a test that combines multiple kinds of data) with a low-cost sensor that may enable the at-home diagnosis of a COVID infection through rapid analysis of small volumes of saliva or blood, without the involvement of a medical professional, in less than 10 minutes. "This is the only telemedicine platform I've seen that can give information about the infection in three types of data with a single sensor," Gao says. "In as little as a few minutes, we can simultaneously check these levels, so we get a full picture about the infection, including early infection, immunity, and severity." [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers James J. Morgan


James (Jim) J. Morgan, Marvin L. Goldberger Professor of Environmental Engineering Science, Emeritus, passed away on September 19, 2020. Dr. Jim Morgan came to Caltech in 1965 as Associate Professor of Environmental Health Engineering. After 35 years of distinguished service to the Institute, he became emeritus in 2000. He served as the Academic Officer for Environmental Engineering Science, 1971-72, Dean of Students, 1972-75, Executive Officer for Environmental Engineering Science, 1974-80 and 1993-96, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, 1981-84, and Vice President for Student Affairs, 1980-89. Professor Morgan’s research was concerned with the chemistry and technology of water treatment, the scientific basis for establishing criteria and standards for water quality protection, and manganese in fresh and marine waters. He was renowned as a caring teacher and mentor to generations of students and scholars. His book on Aquatic Chemistry, which he co-authored with his advisor Werner Stumm, remains the standard reference on the subject (cited more than 25,000 times) and has become a worldwide classic. He received numerous awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering and the Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for Water Science and Technology from the National Water Research Institute. Jim Morgan and Werner Stumm were awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 1999. [Caltech story]

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Effective Pathway to Convert Greenhouse Gas into Valuable Products


A research team from Caltech and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has demonstrated a promising way to efficiently convert carbon dioxide into ethylene—an important chemical used to produce plastics, solvents, cosmetics, and other important products globally. They developed nanoscale copper wires with specially shaped surfaces to catalyze a chemical reaction that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously generating ethylene. "The idea of using copper to catalyze this reaction has been around for a long time, but the key is to accelerate the rate so it is fast enough for industrial production," says William A. Goddard III, Charles and Mary Ferkel Professor of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Applied Physics. [Caltech story]

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Optical Clock Collaboration Awarded 2020 Team Engineering Excellence Award


The 2-Photon Optical Clock Collaboration has been awarded OSA’s 2020 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. The team comprises researchers and engineers from Caltech, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Caltech contributed the microwave rate frequency microcomb to the clock. [OSA story]

Tags: honors Kerry Vahala Boqiang Shen Myoung Gyun Suh Ki Youl Yang

Urmila Mahadev Awarded Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize


Urmila Mahadev, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Inaugural Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize for work that addresses the fundamental question of verifying the output of a quantum computation.

Tags: honors CMS Urmila Mahadev

Lab-Grown Earthquakes Reveal the Frictional Forces Acting Beneath Our Feet


Simulating an earthquake on a miniature scale in a laboratory known unofficially as the "seismological wind tunnel," engineers and seismologists have produced the most comprehensive look to date at the complex physics of friction driving destructive thrust-fault earthquakes. "Simulating earthquakes in a lab lets us observe how these brief and violent events grow and evolve by ‘slowing down' their motion through high-speed photography and optics," says Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering. [Caltech story]

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EAS Remembers Jakob van Zyl


Jakob van Zyl, Senior Faculty Associate in Electrical Engineering and Aerospace, passed away on August 26, 2020 at the age of 63. He came to Caltech in 1982 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He joined JPL in 1986 and retired in 2019 as the Director of Solar System Exploration. He was world-renowned for his research in imaging radar polarimetry. He made pioneering contributions to the design and development of many synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, including SIR-C, SRTM, AIRSAR, TOPSAR, and GeoSAR. He held management roles at JPL including, Director for Astronomy and Physics (2006-2011), Associate Director of Project Formulation and Strategy (2011-2015), and Director of Solar System Exploration (2016-2019). He received many honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa in 2015 for his contributions to space missions, for being a good ambassador for Africa, and for inspiring young scientists and engineers in his home continent. Over the last two decades, he taught EE/Ae 157 Introduction to the Physics of Remote Sensing. He contributed in numerous ways to promote interactions between EAS and JPL.

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