News & Events


Professor Wang Develops World's Fastest Camera


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed the world's fastest camera, a device capable of taking 10 trillion pictures per second. It's so fast that it can even capture light traveling in slow motion. "What we've done is to adapt standard phase-contrast microscopy so that it provides very fast imaging, which allows us to image ultrafast phenomena in transparent materials," says Wang. [Caltech story]

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Caltech Announces the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering


Caltech has launched the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering to train the next generation of science-savvy software engineers and set new standards in scientific software. "This is a recognition that computing, software, and machine learning are going to play a very big role in science. Because Caltech is small and collaborative, we have the opportunity to really make a push in that direction," says Kaushik Bhattacharya, the Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science and vice provost. [Caltech release]

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Microrobots Activated by Laser Pulses Show Promise For Treating Tumors


MedE Professors Wei Gao and Lihong Wang are working on microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside the body. "These micromotors can penetrate the mucus of the digestive tract and stay there for a long time. This improves medicine delivery," Professor Gao says. "But because they're made of magnesium, they're biocompatible and biodegradable." [Caltech story]

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Lasers Aim to Replace Scalpels in Cutting-Edge Biopsy Technique


Professor Lihong Wang and Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Junhui Shi have developed a new imaging technique that uses pulses from two kinds of lasers to take pictures of microscopic biological structures. This new approach, called ultraviolet-localized mid-infrared photoacoustic microscopy, or ULM-PAM, develops images of the microscopic structures found in a piece of tissue by bombarding the sample with both infrared and ultraviolet laser light. "Because ultraviolet light and infrared have different properties, we had to find special mirrors and glass that could focus both," Dr. Shi says. "And because no camera exists that can see both, we had to develop ways to see if they were correctly focused." [Caltech story]

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Laser Technology Helps Researchers Scrutinize Cancer Cells


Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, and colleagues are using photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) to improve on an existing technology for measuring the oxygen-consumption rate (OCR). This new method allows the researchers to determine how oxygenated a sample of blood is by "listening" to the sound it makes when illuminated by the laser. Professor Wang calls this single-cell metabolic photoacoustic microscopy, or SCM-PAM. [Caltech story]

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The Big Picture


Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]

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Spinning the Light: The World's Smallest Optical Gyroscope


Professor Ali Hajimiri and colleagues have developed a new optical gyroscope that is 500 times smaller than the current state-of-the-art device, yet they can detect phase shifts that are 30 times smaller than those systems. Their device achieves this improved performance by using a new technique called "reciprocal sensitivity enhancement." In this case, "reciprocal" means that it affects both beams of the light inside the gyroscope in the same way. [Caltech story]

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Illuminating New Possibilities


Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, explores how nonlinear photonics, a field of optics, enables a broad range of previously less-explored opportunities for using lasers and light detectors for a variety of purposes, including molecular sensing and computing. One possible application of his work is in breath analysis. He describes, “ there's a lot of useful information about your health contained in your breath, but it is difficult to analyze because the concentrations are so low. To overcome that, you could analyze the spectra of exhaled breath using lasers, searching for the spectral "fingerprints," or signatures, that reveal the presence of those compounds.” [Interview with Professor Marandi]

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The Possibilities are Mote and Remote


Professor Azita Emami’s work in high-speed data communications has led to a breakthrough that could spare millions of people the need to prick themselves with needles. As she engineers a more connected world, she also is working to make it a healthier one. Professor Emami doesn’t draw a line between the different endeavors. “Electronic systems for cell phones and computers are very, very advanced,” she explains. “So why not take the knowledge we have gained developing those technologies and find ways to apply it toward solutions in medicine?” [Breakthrough story]

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Wireless Pressure-Sensing Eye Implant Could Help Prevent Blindness


Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering and Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering, Yu-Chong Tai, Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new pressure-sensing implant for the eye that could help prevent one of the leading causes of blindness. The implant could help glaucoma patients monitor their condition by wirelessly sending data about the eye to the patient or medical professionals. Patients at risk for glaucoma are required to make regular visits to an ophthalmologist to have their intraocular pressure (eye pressure) checked. The disadvantage is that patients are only able to measure pressure while visiting their doctor. With a wireless implant, a patient has access to their eye pressure data at any time, and continuous monitoring will allow intervention sooner if needed. [Caltech story]

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