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.
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.
Caltech chemists have developed a hypothesis to explain strange behavior of high-temperature superconductors—copper oxides, or cuprates, that conduct electricity without a shred of resistance at temperatures much higher than other superconducting metals.
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.
They shrink when you heat 'em. Most materials expand when heated, but a few contract. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have figured out how one of these curious materials, scandium trifluoride (ScF3), does the trick—a finding, they say, that will lead to a deeper understanding of all kinds of materials.