News & Events


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 postdocs

Point of Light


Hyuck Choo, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Postdoctoral Scholar Myung-Ki Kim have invented a light-focusing device that may lead to applications in computing, communications, and imaging. This new kind of waveguide is made of amorphous silicon dioxide and is covered in a thin layer of gold. Just under two microns long, the device is a rectangular box that tapers to a point at one end. With the new device, light can ultimately be focused in three dimensions, producing a point a few nanometers across, and using half of the light that's sent through, Choo says. (Focusing the light into a slightly bigger spot, 14 by 80 nanometers in size, boosts the efficiency to 70 percent). The key feature behind the device's focusing ability and efficiency, he says, is its unique design and shape. [Caltech Release and Video]

Tags: EE energy research highlights Hyuck Choo Myung-Ki Kim postdocs

Progress for Paraplegics


Joel W. Burdick, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, and Yu-Chong Tai, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, are developing new technologies to expand their research which has enabled a paraplegic man to stand and move his legs voluntarily. The team has until now used intelligent guesswork to determine which stimuli might work best. But soon, using a new algorithm developed by Professor Burdick, they will be able to rely on a computer to determine the optimum stimulation levels, based on the patient's response to previous stimuli. This would allow patients to go home after the extensive rehab process with a system that could be continually adjusted by computer. [Caltech Release] [ENGenious Progress Report]

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

Clean-Energy Research Accelerates


Caltech clean-energy research is accelerating thanks to the renovation of the Earle M. Jorgensen Laboratory. Transformed into a cutting-edge facility for energy science, the lab unites two powerhouse programs: the Resnick Sustainability Institute and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP). "Our researchers are working with Caltech's chemists and chemical engineers to challenge the status quo and translate scientific discovery into clean-energy innovations that will directly benefit society for generations to come," says Chair Ares Rosakis. [Caltech Release]

Tags: energy research highlights Caltech infrastructure Jorgensen Renovation

Ready for Your Close-Up?


Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have shown that the distance at which facial photos are taken influences perception. Their study found that close-up photo subjects are judged to look less trustworthy, less competent, and less attractive. [Caltech Release]

Tags: EE research highlights Pietro Perona

Seeing Inside Tissue


Changhuei Yang, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, and colleagues Ying Min Wang and Benjamin Judkewitz have developed a new method to focus light inside biological tissue. "It enables the possibilities of doing incision-less surgery," says Professor Yang. "By generating a tight laser-focus spot deep in tissue, we can potentially use that as a laser scalpel that leaves the skin unharmed." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE energy research highlights Changhuei Yang MedE health Ying Min Wang Benjamin Judkewitz

Calculating the Capacity of a Network


Michelle Effros, Professor of Electrical Engineering, and information theorist colleagues have begun to tackle the difficult problem of calculating capacities for large communication networks such as the internet and mobile phone networks. In two recent publications, they introduce techniques useful for improving the performance of current communication networks and for designing the networks of the future. By demonstrating where current technology falls short of what's possible, these techniques provide a new tool for strategically guiding research and development. [Read the Publications]

Tags: EE energy research highlights Michelle Effros

Robust Self-Replication


Erik Winfree, Professor of Computer Science, Computation and Neural Systems, and Bioengineering, and colleagues including Caltech alumnae Rebecca Schulman, have created a new system to copy sequence information. In their approach, tiny DNA tile crystals consisting of many copies of a piece of information are first grown, then broken into a few pieces by mechanically-induced scission, or force. The new crystal bits contain all the information needed to keep copying the sequence. Each piece then begins to replicate its information and grow until broken apart again—without the help of enzymes, an essential ingredient in biological sequence replication. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: EE research highlights health CMS Erik Winfree Rebecca Schulman

Innovation In Image Annotation


Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues including graduate student, Peter Welinder, have been selected for the Innovation Corps (i-Corps) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The aim of the i-Corps program, which was highlighted by the NSF Director at a recent Wouk Lecture, is to guide promising research with commercial potential out of university laboratories. The winning Caltech proposal is entitled "Combining Machine Vision and Crowdsourcing for Convenient and Accurate Image Annotation." The team has proposed to combine the complementary strengths of human annotators and machines into a hybrid system that would annotate a large body of images which would be a valuable in scientific, medical, as well as many commercial applications. [Video of Wouk Lecture]

Tags: EE research highlights health Pietro Perona NSF Peter Welinder

DNA Robotics Research Earns Undergrads a Gold Prize


Undergraduate students Zibo Chen, Shayan Doroudi, Yae Lim Lee, Gregory Izatt, and Sarah Wittman have won a gold award at the 2011 International Bio-Molecular Design Competition (BIOMOD). BIOMOD is a competition for undergraduate teams who design research to address the control of biomolecules on the nanometer scale. The Caltech team's challenge was to make a synthetic DNA robot that has the ability to take a random walk —instead of walking on set path or track—on a two-dimensional origami surface that was also made out of DNA. The team is mentored by Professor Erik Winfree and sponsored by the Molecular Programming Project. [Caltech Feature] [Video of Project]

Tags: EE research highlights health CMS Erik Winfree Zibo Chen Shayan Doroudi Yae Lim Lee Gregory Izatt Sarah Wittman