For biochemist and chemical engineer Frances Arnold, the road to success has not been straight and narrow. In fact, she has often bucked the academic tradition of rigorous, time-consuming pre-experiment methodology for a more fast and furious approach to research.
When geologists survey an area of land for the potential that gas or petroleum deposits could exist there, they must take into account the composition of rocks that lie below the surface. Previous research had suggested that compaction bands might act as barriers to the flow of oil or gas. Now, researchers led by José Andrade have analyzed X-ray images of Aztec sandstone and revealed that compaction bands are actually more permeable than earlier models indicated.
Caltech scientists have concocted a recipe for a thermoelectric material—one that converts heat energy into electricity—that might be able to operate off nothing more than the heat of a car's exhaust. In a paper published in Nature this month, G. Jeffrey Snyder and his colleagues reported on a compound that shows high efficiency in a temperature range of around 260 to 1160 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, the heat escaping out your car's tailpipe could be used to help power its electrical components.
Four Caltech faculty members are among the 65 scientists from across the nation selected to receive Early Career Research Awards from the Department of Energy. The grant winners are Guillaume Blanquart, Julia R. Greer, Chris Hirata, and Ryan Patterson. The Early Career Research Program is designed to bolster the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.
The joint Solar Decathlon team of Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) will show off their state-of-the-art, energy-efficient house tomorrow in a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. at the SCI-Arc campus in Los Angeles. All are welcome and refreshments will be served.
Thanks to a campaign led by a joint team of students from Caltech and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), the 2011 Solar Decathlon is back on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The announcement made last week reverses an earlier decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to relocate the event.
Caltech's efforts to finance energy efficiency in ways that give back to the campus have been recognized by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in its recently-released report, Greening the Bottom Line: The Trend toward Green Revolving Funds on Campus.
Training the next generation of scientists is a critical component of the mission of Caltech's Resnick Institute. And although the institute is not yet two years old, it has already begun to fulfill that mission, thanks to the newly developed Resnick Fellowship program. The first two Resnick Fellows began their work in the fall of 2010; last week, the institute put out a call for applications for the next set of two-year awards.
In last night's State of the Union Address, President Obama said, "We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo projects of our time. At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars.
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.