Advanced Materials and Nanoscience News

02/21/2014 18:26:11
Cynthia Eller
Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neutral systems, and bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells."
05/23/2011 07:00:00
Dave Zobel

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.

05/17/2011 23:00:00
Kathy Svitil

Caltech scientists have conducted experiments confirming which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of 3-D pillar arrays in nanofilms. These protrusions appear suddenly when the surface of a molten nanofilm is exposed to an extreme temperature gradient and self-organize into hexagonal, lamellar, square, or spiral patterns. 

05/12/2011 10:00:00
Marcus Woo

Stronger than steel or titanium—and just as tough—metallic glass is an ideal material for everything from cell-phone cases to aircraft parts. Now, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a new technique that allows them to make metallic-glass parts utilizing the same inexpensive processes used to produce plastic parts. With this new method, they can heat a piece of metallic glass at a rate of a million degrees per second and then mold it into any shape in just a few milliseconds.

03/29/2011 07:00:00
Dave Zobel

On March 29, the world's largest scientific society will bestow its highest honor on Ahmed H. Zewail, Caltech's Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and professor of physics.

01/20/2011 08:00:00
Lori Oliwenstein

A new class of artificial materials called metamaterials may one day be used to create ultrapowerful microscopes, advanced sensors, improved solar cells, computers that use light instead of electronic signals to process information, and even an invisibility cloak. In a Perspectives piece in this week's issue of the journal Science, Caltech's Harry Atwater and Purdue University colleague Alexandra Boltasseva describe advances in a particular subtype of these materials—plasmonic metamaterials. 

01/19/2011 00:00:00
Kathy Svitil

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.

01/13/2011 08:00:00
Marcus Woo

More than 50 years ago, at a meeting of the American Physical Society hosted by Caltech, Richard Feynman gave a talk called “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” In his visionary speech, Feynman discussed the technological promise of tiny machines as small as a few atoms. This promise has grown into a full-fledged discipline we now know as nanoscience, and it is the subject of TEDxCaltech’s last session, “Nanoscience and Future Biology.”

01/12/2011 00:00:00
Lori Oliwenstein

A Caltech-led team has created a palladium-based metallic glass that has a combination of strength and toughness at a level not previously been seen in any other material. The study demonstrates for the first time that the metallic glasses have the capacity to become the toughest and strongest materials ever known, the researchers say. 

12/29/2010 08:00:00
Dave Zobel

Caltech scientists recently demonstrated a robot that is capable of following a trail of chemical breadcrumbs. The surprising twist: the robot consists of a single molecule. The three-legged "molecular spider" can traverse a DNA origami landscape from one end to the other (albeit rather ploddingly), turning corners as needed and stopping when it reaches its destination. Graduate student Nadine Dabby will describe the tiny traveler at January's TEDxCaltech conference, where she is a featured speaker.

10/11/2010 07:00:00
Michael Rogers

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.

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