News & Events


Extending a Battery's Lifetime with Heat


The research of alumnus Asghar Aryanfar (’15 PhD, ME) along with Professors Goddard and Hoffmann has shown that heat can break down the damaging branch-like structures that grow inside batteries, which may possibly be used to extend battery lifetimes. [Learn more] [Read the paper]

Tags: research highlights MCE ESE William Goddard alumni Michael Hoffmann Asghar Aryanfar

Atomic Fractals in Metallic Glasses


Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues including graduate student David Chen have shown that metallic glasses has an atomic-level structure although it differs from the periodic lattices that characterize crystalline metals. "Our group has solved this paradox by showing that atoms are only arranged fractally up to a certain scale," Greer says. "Larger than that scale, clusters of atoms are packed randomly and tightly, making a fully dense material, just like a regular metal. So we can have something that is both fractal and fully dense." [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer David Chen

Preparing for Earthquakes with ShakeAlert


United States Geological Survey (USGS) has announced an approximately $4 million in awards to Caltech, University of California Berkeley, the University of Washington and the University of Oregon, for the expansion and improvement of the ShakeAlert, an earthquake early-warning system. "Caltech's role in ShakeAlert will focus on research and development of the system so that future versions will be faster and more reliable," said Professor Thomas Heaton. "We currently collect data from approximately 400 seismic stations throughout California. The USGS grant will allow Caltech to upgrade or install new stations in strategic locations that will significantly improve the performance of ShakeAlert." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Thomas Heaton

Srivatsan Hulikal Wins Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection Prize


Graduate student, Srivatsan Hulikal, was the recipient of the the 2015 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection. In his thesis, Dr. Hulikal successfully took on the multifaceted and challenging problem of linking macroscopic frictional properties of interfaces to their micromechanics. His advisor Professor Lapusta explains, “Understanding this connection is key to addressing fundamental problems in seismo-mechanics and seismo-engineering, such as creating predictive physical models of earthquakes.”

Tags: honors research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta Srivatsan Hulikal

An Earthquake Warning System in Our Pockets?


Thomas H. Heaton, Professor of Engineering Seismology, and colleagues’ recent study suggests that all of our phones and other personal electronic devices could function as a distributed network, detecting any ground movements caused by a large earthquake, and, ultimately, giving people crucial seconds to prepare for a temblor. "Thirty years ago it took months to assemble a crude picture of the deformations from an earthquake. This new technology promises to provide a near-instantaneous picture with much greater resolution," says Professor Heaton. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Thomas Heaton

Engineering and Art


Students in Professor Hillary Mushkin’s media arts seminar (E/H/Art 89 New Media Arts in the 20th and 21st Centuries) have once again put on a unique exhibition highlighting art and engineering. The course provides a platform for an expanded understanding of engineering and an active, project-based engagement with art history.

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Tags: EE research highlights MCE CMS Hillary Mushkin

Heat Transfer Sets the Noise Floor for Ultrasensitive Electronics


Austin Minnich, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The team's findings also suggest that it may be possible to develop engineering strategies to make phonon heat transfer more efficient at low temperatures. For example, one possibility might be to change the design of transistors so that phonon generation takes place over a broader volume. "If you can make the phonon generation more spread out, then in principle you could reduce the temperature rise that occurs," Professor Minnich says. "We don't know what the precise strategy will be yet, but now we know the direction we should be going. That's an improvement." [Caltech release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE Austin Minnich

Dr. Josette Bellan Receives JPL Magellan Award for Excellence


Josette Bellan, Caltech Visiting Associate in Mechanical and Civil Engineering as well as Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), has received the Magellan Award for Excellence for the development of new Large Eddy Simulation methodologies for particle laden and supercritical mixing layers. The Magellan Award is the highest JPL award presented to an individual for her scientific or technical accomplishments.

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Tags: honors research highlights MCE JPL Josette Bellan

Seismology and Resilient Infrastructure


Domniki Asimaki, Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, is interested in the behavior of geotechnical systems under the influence of forces such as wind, waves, and seismological activity. Using this information, she hopes to make predictive computer models that can lead to the design of an infrastructure that is resilient to natural and man-made hazards. Her work also relates to the harvesting of wind energy and she explains, “People like myself with an engineering background, but also with scientific curiosity, can work in areas like this and set the performance and design standards from scratch. But because the energy-harvesting industry is just starting out, we need to make it innovative while still financially feasible.” [Interview with Professor Asimaki] [ENGenious article]

Tags: research highlights MCE Domniki Asimaki