Spiders at the Nanoscale: Molecules that Behave Like Robots

A team of scientists from Columbia University, Arizona State University, the University of Michigan, and Caltech have programmed an autonomous molecular "robot" made out of DNA to start, move, turn, and stop while following a DNA track.

The development could ultimately lead to molecular systems that might one day be used for medical therapeutic devices and molecular-scale reconfigurable robots—robots made of many simple units that can reposition or even rebuild themselves to accomplish different tasks.

Caltech Biologists Link Gut Microbial Equilibrium to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

We are not alone—even in our own bodies. The human gut is home to 100 trillion bacteria, which have co-evolved along with our digestive and immune systems. Most people view bacteria as harmful pathogens causing infections and disease. But some microbes, taking a different evolutionary path, have established beneficial relationships with their hosts. Still others may be perched somewhere in between, according to research by Caltech biologists that offers new insight into the causes of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.

Caltech-Led Team Designs Novel Negative-Index Metamaterial that Responds to Visible Light

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.

R. David Middlebrook, 80

R. David Middlebrook, emeritus professor of electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), passed away on April 16. He was 80 years old.

Caltech Researchers Create "Sound Bullets"

Taking inspiration from a popular executive toy ("Newton's cradle"), researchers at Caltech have built a device—called a nonlinear acoustic lens—that produces highly focused, high-amplitude acoustic signals dubbed "sound bullets." The acoustic lens and its sound bullets (which can exist in fluids—like air and water—as well as in solids) have the potential to revolutionize applications from medical imaging and therapy to the nondestructive evaluation of materials and engineering systems.

The Light and Sound Fantastic

Producing coherent light on a microchip is old hat—LED lasers underpin our high-tech world, appearing in gadgets ranging from DVD players and supermarket checkout scanners to digital data lines. A new chip-compatible component developed at Caltech can produce coherent sound as well, and even interconvert the two. Who knows where this marriage of sound and light might lead?

Caltech Receives More than $33 Million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Research in genomic sciences, astronomy, seismology, and neuroeconomics are some of the many projects being funded at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Caltech Researchers Create Highly Absorbing, Flexible Solar Cells with Silicon Wire Arrays

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. 

Watson Lecture: Creating Laboratory Earthquakes

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated that high-speed intersonic ruptures exist and could occur during the next major earthquake. The researchers now have the ability to create laboratory earthquakes of varying force and magnitudes that mimic actual quakes.  By triggering laboratory earthquakes, researchers can study the behavior of quakes and their potential force and destructiveness—without a real quake actually occurring.

Caltech Researchers Develop Nanoscale Structures with Superior Mechanical Properties

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.


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