News & Events


Naturally Inspired


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering, and colleagues are studying the properties of the zebrafish embryonic heart to address problems as diverse as ringing in the ears and overheated electronics. They have also developed the first pump built entirely from biological building blocks. “We can actually be more clever than nature,” Gharib says. “We can get inspired by nature and use engineering to come up with better functions. Just look at 747s—they fly from LAX to La Guardia much more efficiently than any bird could.” [E&S Article]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT MedE health Morteza Gharib Bioinspired

Visualizing Flow Fields


The research of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, on visualizing flow fields around jelly fish and ocean circulation is featured in the recent issue of the National Geographic Magazine. [Excerpt from magazine]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Building A Wind Tunnel To Produce Shear Flow


Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) student, Yuyang Fan, working with Research Scientist Daegyoum Kim and Professor Morteza Gharib, has built a wind tunnel that produces shear flow—flow in which wind speed changes with position or time.  The tunnel is six feet long, four feet wide, and four feet tall.  It is made from 100 coaster-sized computer fans that blow air at around nine meters per second. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT Morteza Gharib SURF Yuyang Fan Daegyoum Kim

One-way Transmission System for Sound Waves


Postdoctoral scholar, Georgios Theocharis, and GALCIT alumnus Nicholas Boechler; working with Professor Chiara Daraio, have created the first tunable acoustic diode- a device that allows acoustic information to travel only in one direction, at controllable frequencies. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS energy research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Georgios Theocharis Nicholas Boechler

Wind-turbine Placement Produces Tenfold Power Increase


Field tests of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering, and colleagues' vertical-axis wind turbines have shown that the power output of wind farms can be increased by an order of magnitude—at least tenfold— by optimizing the placement of turbines on a given plot of land. "Dabiri's bioinspired engineering research is challenging the status quo in wind-energy technology," says Ares Rosakis, Division Chair and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "This exemplifies how Caltech engineers' innovative approaches are tackling our society's greatest problems." [Caltech Press Release] [Videos of Turbines]

Tags: energy research highlights GALCIT John Dabiri

Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms


Sandra M. Troian, Professor of Applied Physics, Aeronautics, and Mechanical Engineering, and colleagues' experiments have confirmed which of three possible mechanisms is responsible for the spontaneous formation of three-dimensional (3-D) pillar arrays in nanofilms (polymer films that are billionths of a meter thick). "My ultimate goal is to develop a suite of 3-D lithographic techniques based on remote, digital modulation of thermal, electrical, and magnetic surface forces," Troian says. Confirmation of the correct mechanism has allowed her to deduce the maximum resolution or minimum feature size ultimately possible with these patterning techniques. [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: APhMS research highlights GALCIT MCE Sandra Troian

How an Idea Becomes a Business


Students in Ken Pickar's course Entrepreneurial Development (E 102) have the opportunity to identify a technology currently under study at Caltech and develop a business plan for it. The ideas used by the students this year included a solid-state memory technology developed by Jehoshua (Shuki) Bruck, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering. In this business plan the students proposed targeting Netflix and other high-volume streaming content providers. Another team pinpointed a new market for the vertical wind turbines of John O. Dabiri, Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering. A third team pitched a noninvasive method for breaking up arterial plaques using the concentrated-acoustic-pulse technology developed by Chiara Daraio, Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics. [Caltech Feature]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights Chiara Daraio GALCIT Jehoshua Bruck John Dabiri Ken Pickar

Chiara Daraio Named One of Popular Science's Brilliant 10


Chiara Daraio, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Applied Physics, has been named one of Popular Science's Brilliant 10. The article states that Professor Daraio is "brilliant because: she manipulates simple laws of physics to make cancer-destroying 'sound bullets'." [Learn More on page 80-01]

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Professor Gharib Named Vice Provost


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bio-Inspired Engineering, is the new Vice Provost with a special focus on research. Professor Gharib has made contributions to a wide array of research topics ranging from the fundamental analysis of biological flows, to the development of bio-inspired medical devices, to advanced flow visualization techniques. One of his more unusual studies was his work with a SURF student several years ago where they raised a 30000-pound obelisk into place using a single kite and speculated that the ancient Egyptians may have moved the massive stones from which the pyramids were built and raised obelisks by flying them into place! His breadth, technical strength, and enthusiasm will serve him and Caltech well as he takes on the role of Vice Provost. [Caltech Today Article]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE Morteza Gharib

2010 World Cup Jubalani Soccer Ball Tested in Wind Tunnel


Beverley McKeon, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, and her team test the 2010 World Cup Jubalani soccer ball in the Lucas Adaptive Wall Wind Tunnel. Their results may explain the seemingly unpredictable nature of the ball. [Caltech Press Release and Video]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT Beverley McKeon