News & Events


Microstructures Self-Assemble into New Materials


A new process developed at Caltech makes it possible for the first time to manufacture large quantities of materials whose structure is designed at a nanometer scale—the size of DNA's double helix. Pioneered by Julia R. Greer, Ruben F. and Donna Mettler Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering; Fletcher Jones Foundation Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, "nanoarchitected materials" exhibit unusual, often surprising properties—for example, exceptionally lightweight ceramics that spring back to their original shape, like a sponge, after being compressed. Now, a team of engineers at Caltech and ETH Zurich have developed a material that is designed at the nanoscale but assembles itself—with no need for the precision laser assembly. "We couldn't 3-D print this much nanoarchitected material even in a month; instead we're able to grow it in a matter of hours," says Carlos M. Portela, Postdoctoral Scholar. "It is exciting to see our computationally designed optimal nanoscale architectures being realized experimentally in the lab," says Dennis M. Kochmann, Visiting Associate. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MedE MCE Julia Greer KNI Dennis Kochmann postdocs Carlos Portela

The Utility of Instability


Professors Dennis M. Kochmann and Chiara Daraio along with colleagues from Harvard have designed and created mechanical chains made of soft matter that can transmit signals across long distances. Because they are flexible, the circuits could be used in machines such as soft robots or lightweight aircraft constructed from pliable, nonmetallic materials. "Engineers tend to shy away from instability. "Though there are many applications, the fundamental principles that we explore are most exciting to me," Kochmann says. "These nonlinear systems show very similar behavior to materials at the atomic scale but these are difficult to access experimentally or computationally. Now we have built a simple macroscale analogue that mimics how they behave." [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT MCE Dennis Kochmann

Better, Stronger, Lighter Armor


Kaushik Bhattacharya, Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Professor of Materials Science, is the Caltech lead on a $90 million U.S. Army Research Laboratory funded program to improve protective gear and vehicles for soldiers. "…studying materials in very extreme conditions is an area where Caltech engineering really stand out," says Bhattacharya. "The tools we bring, on both the theoretical and experimental sides uniquely bridge deep fundamental principles with unprecedented application.” [Caltech Feature]

More »

Tags: APhMS GALCIT MCE Guruswami Ravichandran Julia Greer William Goddard Michael Ortiz Dennis Kochmann Kaushik Bhattacharya

New Faculty Members in EAS Zoom in on the Nanoscale


Hyuck Choo, Dennis Kochmann, and Austin Minnich focus on quite different challenges, but they all home in on the nanoscale. "Caltech and EAS take pride in lowering the barriers between disciplines to create collaborative environments for researchers such as Hyuck, Dennis, and Austin to work on a variety of topics including understanding and predicting behavior of materials at the nanoscale, which already is an area of strength within EAS," says Ares Rosakis, Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: EE GALCIT MCE Hyuck Choo Dennis Kochmann Austin Minnich