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How Friction Evolves During an Earthquake

08-15-17

Professor Ares Rosakis, and colleagues including Professor Nadia Lapusta and Research Scientist Vito Rubino, are studying the way friction changes along a fault during a seismic event by simulating quakes in a lab. "Our unique facility … allows us for the first time to study friction point-wise and without having to assume that sliding occurs uniformly, as is done in classical friction studies," Rosakis explains. Professor Lapusta adds, “some numerical models of earthquake rupture … have used friction laws with slip-velocity dependence… It is gratifying to see those formulations validated by the spontaneous mini-earthquake ruptures in our study. " [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Ares Rosakis Nadia Lapusta Vito Rubino

2017 Library Thesis Prize

06-20-17

Senior Daniel Lim has received the 2017 Library Friends' Senior Thesis Prize for his work on sculpting nanofilms with laser illumination. Lim's thesis, titled "Revolution in large-area curved surface lithography: Nanofilm sculpting by thermocapillary modulation," is based on experimental research he conducted over two years in the laboratory of Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering Sandra M. Troian. "Our group has been working on thermocapillary sculpting of nanofilms for several years now,” says Troian. "Daniel advanced this concept by demonstrating an inverse projection method, which imbues the sculpting process with far greater versatility. Daniel is an exceptional student—a rare combination of superb talent, tremendous drive, utmost professionalism, and entrepreneurial chops. " [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS honors research highlights MCE Sandra Troian Daniel Lim

One Step at a Time: A Conversation with Professor Ames

05-05-17

Aaron Ames, Bren Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, handbuilds bipedal robots and designs the algorithms that govern how they walk. These algorithms couple efficiency equations with boundary constraints to teach robots to generate their own walking gait. [Interview with Professor Ames]

Tags: research highlights MCE CMS Aaron Ames

Engineers Create Artificial Skin That "Feels" Temperature Changes

01-30-17

Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed an artificial skin capable of detecting temperature changes using a mechanism similar to the one used by the organ that allows pit vipers to sense their prey. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE

Building Better Batteries

12-19-16

Julia R. Greer, Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics, and colleagues have measured for the first time the strength of lithium metal at the nano- and microscale, a discovery with important implications for suppressing dendrite formation and improving lithium-ion batteries.  [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MedE MCE Julia Greer

Professor Rolf Sabersky Passes Away

11-10-16

Rolf H. Sabersky, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, passed away on October 24, 2016 at the age of 96.  Professor Sabersky joined the faculty in 1949 having obtained his BS ’42, MS ’43, and PhD ’49 from Caltech in Mechanical Engineering. He became professor emeritus in 1988.  He worked with luminaries throughout his distinguished career including Theodore von Kármán at Aerojet. James Van Allan sought his expertise for the development of the Ajax and Bumblebee rocket programs.  Professor Sabersky made pioneering contributions to our understanding of boiling heat transfer, free convection, granular flows, and indoor air quality. He taught courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.  He was renowned for his commitment to education, mentoring, and promoting diversity. He was the author of two popular textbooks, Elements of Engineering Thermodynamics, and Fluid Flow: A First course in Fluid Mechanics, which he coauthored with Professor Allan Acosta. He received the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1977.

Tags: research highlights MCE EAS history Rolf Sabersky

Visualization Brings Data to Life

10-28-16

Students participating in Caltech's Data Visualization program aim to tackle cumbersome data-manipulation problem such as how to drive a rover on Mars from a command room on Earth. One of the goals of the program is to develop innovative software to streamline the ways in which scientists and engineers visually manipulate their data. "We use a human-centered design methodology," Professor Mushkin says. "Design students create sketches and ask the researchers to 'interact' with them by pointing, talking, shuffling, and annotating the paper, while computer science students create rough drafts of a variety of possible approaches to coding the visualization." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE CMS Hillary Mushkin

Mechanics of Materials Across Nano to Geological Time and Length Scales

09-29-16

A symposium was organized at Brown University on September 16-17, 2016 to celebrate the technical contributions of Professor Ares Rosakis on the occasion of his 60th birthday. The symposium was chaired by Professors Pradeep Guduru, Huajian Gao, and G. Ravichandran. It brought together distinguished engineers and scientists from multiple disciplines to discussion research frontiers relating to the mechanics of materials across nano to geological time and length scales. [Symposium program] [Photos]

Tags: research highlights Guruswami Ravichandran Ares Rosakis Pradeep Guduru Huajian Gao

Modular Space Telescope Could Be Assembled By Robot

09-28-16

Professor Sergio Pellegrino and colleagues including Professor Joel Burdick, are proposing a space observatory with a 100 meters diameter primary mirror. Their design calls for the use of more than 300 deployable truss modules that could be unfolded to form a scaffolding upon which a commensurate number of small mirror plates could be placed to create a large segmented mirror. In this concept, a spider-like, six-armed "hexbot" would assemble the trusswork and then crawl across the structure to build the mirror atop it. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MCE Sergio Pellegrino Joel Burdick

Counting on Grains of Sand

08-24-16

José E. Andrade, Professor of Civil and Mechanical Engineering; Executive Officer for Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and colleagues have developed a new method that measures the way forces move through granular materials—one that could improve our understanding of everything from how soils bear the weight of buildings to what stresses are at work deep below the surface of the earth. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade