News & Events


JPL Designates Perseverance Rover’s Landing Site and Observation Point


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has designated the Perseverance rover’s landing site as the Octavia E. Butler Landing and the rover’s observation point to record Ingenuity helicopter tests as the Van Zyl Overlook. Jakob van Zyl (MS ’83; PhD ‘86) joined JPL in 1986 and stayed for 33 years in various positions, including director for Astronomy, Physics and Space Technology. He taught at Caltech, as a senior faculty associate in electrical engineering and aerospace, for two decades. The Ingenuity helicopter was one of his last projects at the JPL. Van Zyl retired from the JPL in 2019 and passed away unexpectedly in August 2020. Octavia Butler lived just miles away from JPL; she was a pioneering author and one of the first Black female science fiction authors. Butler was the first to write about prominent Black characters in science fiction settings, using dystopias, time travel and other tropes. She was awarded both the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction author to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Butler passed away in 2006. [USA Today]

Tags: EE Jakob van Zyl

Students Selected for NSF Graduate Research Fellowship


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected graduate students Komron Shayegan, Steven Bulfer, and Daniel Mukasa to receive Graduate Research Fellowships. The selection criteria used to identify NSF fellows reflect the potential of the applicant to advance knowledge and benefit society. Those selected for a fellowship will receive support for three years of graduate study in a research-based master's or doctoral program in science or engineering. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE honors alumni Komron Shayegan Steven Bulfer Skye Reese Noelle Unyoung Davis Daniel Mukasa

Astronomers Image Magnetic Fields at the Edge of M87's Black Hole


The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which produced the first-ever image of a black hole, revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy: a picture of its polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. "We are now able to see a different dimension of the light circling the M87 black hole," says Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy, Rosenberg Scholar, and co-coordinator of the EHT Imaging Working Group. "The image we reconstructed earlier showed us how bright the light was around the black hole shadow. This image is telling us about the direction of that light." [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Katie Bouman

Professor Bouman Featured in Inverse Magazine


Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Astronomy; Rosenberg Scholar, was featured in Inverse Magazine as one of the astronomers who captured the first image of a black hole. In 2019, Bouman and a group of more than 200 astronomers from all over the world managed the inconceivable: They captured the first image of a black hole, rendering the invisible visible. "Ideally, to see a black hole, we would need a telescope the size of the entire Earth," says Bouman. "We had to come up with a computational telescope that size." [Inverse article]

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Katie Bouman

P. P. Vaidyanathan Receives Athanasios Papoulis Award


P. P. Vaidyanathan, Kiyo and Eiko Tomiyasu Professor of Electrical Engineering, has been selected to receive the 2021 EURASIP Athanasios Papoulis Award "for outstanding contributions to research and teaching of signal processing and multirate filter bank theory". The Athanasios Papoulis Award is given to honor scientists whose work has had a major impact in various aspects on Signal Processing education. The award is offered only on demand, every time there is an exceptional candidate and not on a regular period of time. [Past Recipients]

Tags: EE honors P. P. Vaidyanathan

New Insight into Nonlinear Optical Resonators Unlocks Door to Numerous Potential Applications


Devices known as optical parametric oscillators are among the widely used nonlinear resonators in optics; they are "nonlinear" in that there is light flowing into the system and light leaking out, but not at the same wavelengths. Though these oscillators are useful in a variety of applications, including in quantum optics experiments, the physics that underpins how their output wavelength, or spectrum, behaves is not well understood. "When you add strong nonlinearity to resonators, you enter what we call a 'rich physics regime,'" says Alireza Marandi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics. "'Rich' in physics terms usually means complicated and hard to use, but we need nonlinearities to create useful functionalities such as switching for computing." To be able to make full use of nonlinear optical resonators, researchers want to be able to understand and model the physics that underpin how they work. Marandi and his colleagues recently uncovered a potential way to engineer those rich physics, while discovering phase transitions in the light that is generated by the resonators. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights KNI Alireza Marandi

Kuan-Chang (Xavier) Chen Receives IEEE SSCS Predoctoral Achievement Award


Graduate student Kuan-Chang (Xavier) Chen, working with Azita Emami, Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering, has received the 2020-2021 IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society (SSCS) Predoctoral Achievement Award. The IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society awards a small number of promising graduate students annually, which are made on the basis of academic record and promise, quality of publications, and a graduate study program well matched to the charter of SSCS. [2020-2021 Recipients]

Tags: EE honors MedE IST Kuan-Chang Chen Azita Emami

Metals that Work Like Magic


Metals that Work Like Magic, a podcast from the Wall Street Journal, features Jamil Tahir-Kheli, research staff member working with Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. The podcast focuses on the history of superconductivity research over the past forty years and potential applications.

Tags: EE research highlights CMS Carver Mead CNS Jamil Tahir-Kheli

Professor Yu-Chong Tai Elected to the National Academy of 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, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Professor Tai was elected for "contributions to microelectromechanical system technologies and parylene-based biomedical microdevices." Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education." [NAE release] [Caltech story]

Tags: EE honors MedE Yu-Chong Tai MCE

Studying Chaos with One of the World's Fastest Cameras


There are things in life that can be predicted reasonably well. The tides rise and fall. A billiard ball bounces around a table according to orderly geometry. And then there are things that defy easy prediction: The hurricane that changes direction without warning. The splashing of water in a fountain. These phenomena and others like them can be described as chaotic systems. Lihong Wang, Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, has developed a new tool that might help to better understand chaotic systems. [Caltech story]

Tags: EE research highlights MedE KNI Lihong Wang