Plasmonic Metamaterials: From Microscopes to Invisibility Cloaks

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. 

New Reactor Paves the Way for Efficiently Producing Fuel from Sunlight

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.

Caltech-Led Team Creates Damage-Tolerant Metallic Glass

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. 

John Dabiri Named to EBONY "Power List"

Congratulations to Caltech's John Dabiri, who has been named to EBONY magazine's annual Power 100 List. Among his companions there: President Barack Obama, Wyclef Jean, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith.

Engineering for the Other Half

Ken Pickar's class, "Product Design for the Developing World," challenges Caltech students to solve some basic problems of the world's poor. The catch: in ten weeks, they must turn rough concepts into workable designs, including financial and market assessments. On December 7, this year's students presented their results. Their visual aids included a typically Caltech-like hodgepodge of pipes, motors, and fans—but as Pickar reminded the audience, "Prototypes aren't supposed to be elegant. They're supposed to be crude and quick."

Caltech Applied Physicist Amnon Yariv Awarded National Medal of Science

Amnon Yariv, the Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and professor of electrical engineering—a pioneer in the field of optoelectronics—has been named one of 10 recipients of the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists.

Capturing the Sun

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.

Thad Vreeland Jr., 85

Thad Vreeland Jr., emeritus professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), passed away August 9 in San Gabriel, California. He was 85 years old.

Two Caltech Scientists Named Among 2010 NIH Director's New Innovator Awardees

As part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative to stimulate highly innovative research and support promising new scientific investigators, two scientists from Caltech were named among the 2010 class of the NIH Director's New Innovator Award recipients.

Caltech Engineer Named MacArthur Fellow

John O. Dabiri, a fluid-dynamics expert at Caltech whose studies of schooling fish have inspired new ideas for wind farming, was named a MacArthur Fellow, and awarded a five-year, $500,000 "no strings attached" grant. Each year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards the unrestricted fellowships to individuals who show "exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future," according to the Foundation's website.

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