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.
As part of a broad effort to achieve breakthrough innovations in energy production, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced an award of up to $122 million over five years to a multidisciplinary team of top scientists, led by Caltech, to establish an Energy Innovation Hub aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight.
A group of scientists led by researchers from Caltech has engineered a type of artificial optical material—a metamaterial—with a particular three-dimensional structure such that light exhibits a negative index of refraction upon entering the material. In other words, this material bends light in the "wrong" direction from what normally would be expected, irrespective of the angle of the approaching light.
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.
Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a new type of flexible solar cell that enhances the absorption of sunlight and efficiently converts its photons into electrons. The solar cell does all this using only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional solar cells.
Caltech researchers have developed a way to make some notoriously brittle materials ductile—yet stronger than ever—simply by reducing their size. The work could eventually lead to innovative, superstrong, yet light and damage-tolerant materials. These materials could be used as components in structural applications, such as in lightweight aerospace vehicles that last longer under extreme environmental conditions and in naval vessels that are resistant to corrosion and wear.
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Dow Chemical Company today announced a new solar-research collaboration aimed at developing the use of semiconductor materials that are less expensive and more abundant than those used in many of today's solar cells. In addition, they announced the creation of the Dow Chemical Company Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Sciences and Engineering.
In work that someday may lead to the development of novel types of nanoscale electronic devices, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has combined DNA's talent for self-assembly with the remarkable electronic properties of carbon nanotubes, thereby suggesting a solution to the long-standing problem of organizing carbon nanotubes into nanoscale electronic circuits.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a nanoscale crystal device that, for the first time, allows scientists to confine both light and sound vibrations in the same tiny space. "This is a whole new concept," notes Oskar Painter, associate professor of applied physics at Caltech. Painter is the principal investigator on the paper describing the work, which was published in the online edition of the journal Nature.