In many ways, life is like a computer. An organism's genome is the software that tells the cellular and molecular machinery—the hardware—what to do. But instead of electronic circuitry, life relies on biochemical circuitry—complex networks of reactions and pathways that enable organisms to function. Now, researchers at Caltech have built the most complex biochemical circuit ever created from scratch, made with DNA-based devices in a test tube that are analogous to the electronic transistors on a computer chip.
There's a wealth of health information hiding in the human immune system. Accessing it, however, can be very challenging, as the many and complex roles that the immune system plays can mask the critical information that is relevant to addressing specific health issues. Now, research led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has shown that a new generation of microchips developed by the team can quickly and inexpensively assess immune function.
Using a common metal most famously found in self-cleaning ovens, Sossina Haile hopes to change our energy future. The metal is cerium oxide—or ceria—and it is the centerpiece of a promising new technology developed by Haile and her colleagues that concentrates solar energy and uses it to efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.
An encounter with summer smog in Yosemite National Park led Caltech graduate student and accomplished nature photographer William Chueh to take action through science. His resulting research could help reduce the planet's dependence on fossil fuels, not to mention clean the air over Yosemite.
Computers, light bulbs, and even people generate heat—energy that ends up being wasted. Thermoelectric devices, which convert heat to electricity and vice versa, harness that energy. But they're not efficient enough for widespread commercial use or are made from expensive or environmentally harmful rare materials.
Now, Caltech researchers have developed a new type of material—a nanomesh, composed of a thin film with a grid-like arrangement of tiny holes—that could lead to efficient thermoelectric devices.
For the past month, Caltech scientists have been zigzagging across the Los Angeles basin. Using an orange and white DeHavilland Twin Otter aircraft packed with instruments, the researchers have been sampling the air, measuring particles and pollutants to help policymakers improve air quality and dampen the impacts of climate change.
A Caltech-led team of researchers and clinicians has published the first proof that a targeted nanoparticle—used as an experimental therapeutic and injected directly into a patient's bloodstream—can traffic into tumors, deliver double-stranded small interfering RNAs, and turn off an important cancer gene using a mechanism known as RNA interference. Moreover, the team demonstrated that this new type of therapy can make its way to human tumors in a dose-dependent fashion.
These boots are made for walking . . . and for powering up your cell phone? It could happen, say a team of Princeton and Caltech scientists. In a recent paper in the journal Nano Letters, they report that they have developed an innovative rubber chip that has the ability to harvest energy from motions such as walking, running, and breathing and convert it into a power source.
Caltech is opening the new Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. The state-of-the-art, sustainable Schlinger Laboratory will provide a custom-designed, adaptable facility for a number of Caltech's chemists and chemical engineers, and will house synthetic chemistry and chemical engineering, enabling new research in catalysis, materials, and the atmosphere.
Caltech graduate student Heather D. Agnew is the recipient of the 2010 $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Caltech Student Prize. Agnew is among the four $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize winners. She was recognized for her integral contributions to the development of innovative biochemical protocols that can be utilized for more stable, robust—and inexpensive—detection of diseases like cancer, HIV, or malaria.