News & Events


Popping Microbubbles Help Focus Light Inside the Body


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Medical Engineering, and his postdoctoral colleague Dr. Haowen Ruan have developed a novel technique called time-reversed ultrasound microbubble encoded (TRUME) that uses gas-filled microbubbles to focus light inside tissue. "Ultrasound and X-ray techniques can only detect cancer after it forms a mass," Yang says. "But with optical focusing, you could catch cancerous cells while they are undergoing biochemical changes but before they undergo morphological changes." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE Changhuei Yang MedE health research highlight

Sensors to Simplify Diabetes Management


As part of their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) projects, several engineering students have contributed to the development of tiny biosensors that could one day eliminate the need for manual blood sugar tests. The students were advised by Caltech medical engineering faculty Axel Scherer, and Hyuck Choo. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious MedE Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer Hyuck Choo

Programmed to Fold: RNA Origami


Paul Rothemund, Senior Research Associate in Bioengineering, Computer Science, and Computation and Neural Systems, and colleagues have fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. "RNA origami is still in its infancy," says Rothemund. "Nevertheless, I believe that RNA origami, because of their potential to be manufactured by cells, and because of the extra functionality possible with RNA, will have at least as big an impact as DNA origami." [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health CMS Paul Rothemund

Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience


A recent New York Times' Science article about a new computing approach based on the nervous system mentions Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. The new processors used in this approach consist of electronic components that can be connected by wires that mimic biological synapses. Because they are based on large groups of neuron-like elements, they are known as neuromorphic processors, a term credited to Carver Mead, who pioneered the concept in the late 1980s. [New York Times Article] [ENGenious Article about Carver Mead]

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From Lab-on-a-Chip to Lab-in-the-Body


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, will be giving the next Caltech Earnest C. Watson Lecture on November 6, 2013 at 8pm. His lecture is entitled From Lab-on-a-Chip to Lab-in-the-Body and will focus on the role of nanotechnology in the miniaturization of medical diagnostic tools. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Article]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer

Pushing Microscopy Beyond Standard Limits


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues have shown how to make cost-effective, ultra-high-performance microscopes. The final images produced by their new system contain 100 times more information than those produced by conventional microscope platforms. And building upon a conventional microscope, their new system costs only about $200 to implement. This new method could have wide applications not only in digital pathology but also in everything from hematology to wafer inspection to forensic photography. [Caltech Release]

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Intraocular Implant Research Wins at Broadcom Foundation Competition


Manuel Monge, an Electrical Engineering graduate student working with Professor Emami-Neyestanak was awarded third place and $2,500 at the Broadcom Foundation University Research Competition for his project “High-Density Self-Calibrating Epiretinal Prosthesis,” which studies how fully intraocular implants with hundreds of pixels help improve the quality of life for people with macular degeneration. The competition celebrates academic excellence and social awareness among students who perform extraordinary academic research. The Foundation’s mission is to advance education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by funding research, recognizing scholarship and increasing opportunity. [MICS Lab]

Tags: EE honors health Azita Emami-Neyestanak Manuel Monge

Counting White Blood Cells at Home


Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a portable device to count white blood cells that needs less than a pinprick's worth of blood and takes just minutes to run. The heart of the new device is a 50-micrometer-long transparent channel made out of a silicone material with a cross section of only 32 micrometers by 28 micrometers—small enough to ensure that only one white blood cell at a time can flow through the detection region. The stained blood sample flows through this microfluidic channel to the detection region, where it is illuminated with a laser, causing it to fluoresce. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE health Yu-Chong Tai MCE

Disease Diagnosis at the Touch of a Button


Axel Scherer, Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics, and colleagues have built a new version of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, which generates many copies of a pathogenic nucleic acid, allowing the infection to be detected. The device is the result of nearly 10 years of research at Caltech. In 2004, Scherer, a leader in the field of microfluidics, and George Maltezos were investigating how to manipulate biological fluids on a chip. While this was an interesting engineering problem, Maltezos began to wonder how he could apply the microfluidic techniques that he was perfecting to real-world problems. Then the H5N1 bird flu pandemic erupted in Asia, and the team had their real-world problem. [Caltech Release]

Tags: APhMS EE MedE health Axel Scherer George Maltezos

A New Tool for Secret Agents—And the Rest of Us


Ali Hajimiri, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Postdoctoral Scholar in Electrical Engineering, Kaushik Sengupta, have developed tiny inexpensive silicon microchips that generate terahertz (THz) waves that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays. When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. "This extraordinary level of creativity, which has enabled imaging in the terahertz frequency range, is very much in line with Caltech's long tradition of innovation in the area of CMOS technology," says Chair Ares Rosakis. "Caltech engineers, like Ali Hajimiri, truly work in an interdisciplinary way to push the boundaries of what is possible." [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights MedE health Ali Hajimiri Kaushik Sengupta