Liquid-like Materials May Pave Way for New Thermoelectric Devices

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.

ME 72 Robots Prepared to Take Over Caltech's Millikan Pond

Robots designed and built by Caltech undergraduate students will battle in head-to-head competition on Thursday, March 8, in what has been dubbed "The Conquest of Millikan Islands," this year's ME 72 Engineering Design Contest. Setup for the contest, which has become a popular event in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, begins at 1 p.m. at Millikan Pond, and the competition is scheduled to begin around 2 p.m.

Plasmas Torn Apart

Using high-speed cameras to look at jets of plasma in the lab, Caltech researchers have made a discovery that may be important in understanding phenomena like solar flares and in developing nuclear fusion as a future energy source.

Two Caltech Researchers Receive Frontiers of Knowledge Award

For their work in information and communication technologies, and biomedicine, Carver Mead, Moore Professor Emeritus of Engineering and Applied Science, and Alexander Varshavsky, Smits Professor of Cell Biology, have been honored by the BBVA Foundation as recipients of 2011 Frontiers of Knowledge awards. 

Rosakis Receives Commandeur de l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques

Ares Rosakis, von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and professor of mechanical engineering, and chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, has been selected to receive the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques—the Commander grade of the French Republic's Order of Academic Palms. 

New Faculty Members in EAS Zoom in on the Nanoscale

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 Faculty Receive Gates Foundation Grants for Global Health Initiatives

On December 15, the Gates Foundation and Grand Challenge Canada announced over $31 million in new grants to help advance healthcare in the developing world. James Heath, Gilloon Professor and professor of chemistry, and Axel Scherer, Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics, and Physics, were among the 12 grant recipients who will be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Caltech was the only organization to receive more than one award.

Light as a Feather, Stiffer Than a Board

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.

 

Auctions, Traffic, Selfishness, and Data Privacy—It All Comes Down to Math

Katrina Ligett, a new assistant professor of computer science and economics, is fascinated by problems that involve a conflict or tension between individual incentives and more global objectives. She uses ideas from computer science and mathematics to approach problems of algorithmic game theory.

An Incredible Shrinking Material

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. 

 

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