Caltech engineers and applied scientists are poking, prodding, and modeling materials on all scales to develop the understanding needed to build the next generation of armor. As part of a newly-funded Army collaboration, six Caltech researchers will investigate what happens to protective materials during intense impact.
In the continual quest for better thermoelectric materials—which convert heat into electricity and vice versa—researchers have identified a liquid-like compound whose properties give it the potential to be even more efficient than traditional thermoelectrics.
Bacteria have evolved different systems for secreting proteins. One, called a type VI secretion system, is found in about a quarter of all bacteria with two membranes. Despite being common, researchers have not understood how it works. Now a team, co-led by researchers at Caltech, has figured out the structure of the type VI secretion system apparatus and proposed how it might work—by shooting spring-loaded poison molecular daggers.
Three new faculty members in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) have big ideas about really small things. Assistant professors Hyuck Choo, Dennis Kochmann, and Austin Minnich focus on quite different challenges, but they all home in on the nanoscale, where they manipulate, model, and measure structures and phenomena at the level of individual atoms.
It has been 25 years since scientists discovered the first high-temperature superconductors—copper oxides, or cuprates, that conduct electricity without a shred of resistance at temperatures much higher than other superconducting metals. Now, two Caltech chemists have developed a hypothesis to explain the strange behavior of these materials, while also pointing the way to a method for making even higher-temperature superconductors.
A team of undergrads recently received accolades for their research at an international competition in Boston. Their studies, which earned them a gold award at the 2011 International Bio-Molecular Design Competition, started out as a summer undergrad research fellowship (SURF) project. The group also received a third place ranking in the "best wiki" prize category, based on a series of web pages that explained their project, "DeoxyriboNucleicAwesome."
Julia Greer, assistant professor of materials science and mechanics at Caltech, is part of a team of researchers who have developed the world’s lightest solid material, with a density of just 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter, or approximately 100 times lighter than Styrofoam™. Though the material is ultra-low in density, it has incredible strength and absorbs energy well, making it potentially useful for applications ranging from battery electrodes to protective shielding.