Resnick Institute

News

Thomas Russell (left) and Harry Atwater (right)

October 18, 2018

Caltech Startup Aims to Make Solar Panels More Efficient


Technology from the Atwater Lab makes metal contacts for solar cells effectively transparent! ETC Solar won our FLOW competition and received a grant from FLOW's Rocket Fund to accelerate the technology toward commercialization.

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Frances Arnold

October 3, 2018

Frances Arnold Wins 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Frances H. Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the directed evolution of enzymes".

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Xile Hu

September 11, 2018

Xile Hu Honored with 2018 Resonate Award


Xile Hu announced winner of the 2018 Resonate Award for developing abundant and non-precious metal catalysts for sustainable synthesis of added-value chemicals and cost-effective production of solar fuels.

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Kimberly See

August 28, 2018

From Colorado to Caltech: Meet Chemistry Professor Kimberly See


See's passion for the outdoors led her to focus on energy research, and more specifically, battery chemistry. She and her students are looking into potential new electrodes and electrolytes that go beyond the traditional chemical reactions using lithium-ion batteries.

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Caltech image

August 28, 2018

Researchers Put A.I. to Work Making Chemistry Predictions


Tom Miller, a professor of chemistry at Caltech; Matt Welborn, a postdoctoral scholar at the Resnick Sustainability Institute; and Lixue Cheng, a chemistry and chemical engineering graduate student, have developed a new tool that uses machine learning to predict chemical reactions long before reagents hit the test tube.

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ground deformation image

August 9, 2018

Animation Based on Satellite Data Shows SoCal "Breathing" Water


Using an unprecedented number of satellite radar images, geophysicists at Caltech have tracked how the ground in Southern California rises and falls as groundwater is pumped in and out of aquifers beneath the surface.

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Alessandro Zocca with Steven Low and Adam Wierman

June 21, 2018

New Model Shows Where to Improve Power Grids


Energy generation from renewable, but fluctuating, resources like solar and wind can add stress to the grid infrastructure, and in particular on specific links within it that can fail and cause brownouts. But how can we know where these vulnerable links are before that happens?

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solar panels

June 20, 2018

Clues to Solar Cell Efficiency Found at Atomic Level


For the past 10 years, a family of materials called metal-halide perovskites, which can efficiently convert sunlight to electricity, has been shaking up solar cell research. Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, perovskites do not need to be manufactured under high temperature and with high purity, making them comparatively cheaper and easier to work with.

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Xiaoqi Ren

June 20, 2018

Ren’s Optimization Research Honored!


Resnick Fellow and recent graduate Xiaoqi Ren PhD won the Bhansali Family Dissertation Prize in Computer Science AND the 2018 Demetriades-Tsafka-Kokkalis Prize in Benign Renewable Energy Sources or Related Fields.

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Flow Logo

June 20, 2018

Meet FLOW's 2018 Cleantech UP Winners!


Caltech's ETC Solar won the US Department of Energy sponsored $50,000 Cleantech UP Prize at our 2018 FLOW competition. ETC Solar's novel solar cell architecture and printing tool for solar cell manufacturers increases panel efficiency by 5 percent -a historic leap forward in improving panel performance, that can significantly reduce manufacturing costs.

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Vanessa and Deana Briceño

May 1, 2018

Making a Way: New Discovery Fund to Advance Sustainability


Starting this year, a new million-dollar endowment at Caltech will fund research focused on renewable energy and sustainability. The Briceño Family Discovery Fund honors the memory of the late Nelson Briceño (BS ’73) through a Break Through campaign gift to an institution that helped to shape his life.

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Earth image

April 20, 2018

Caltech Event Provides Introduction to Climate Science


Two-day series of lectures briefed attendees on the mechanisms driving climate change.

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Julia Greer

April 2018 Issue

Full Charge Ahead


The Caltech Effect covers batteries highlighting Professor Julia Greer.

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Earth image

April 11, 2018

Caltech Offers Climate School


Two-day Earth Week event aims to improve understanding of the mechanisms driving climate change.

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An artist's depiction of a bacterial enzyme and the high-energy carbon ring it created.

April 5, 2018

Caltech Scientists Breed Bacteria That Make Tiny High-Energy Carbon Rings


Engineered bacterial enzymes provide easy access to strained molecular structures rarely seen in nature. Kan says advancements like theirs are pushing chemistry in a greener direction.

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Andrey Vyatskikh

February 9, 2018

New Process Allows 3-D Printing of Nanoscale Metal Structures


For the first time, it is possible to create complex nanoscale metal structures using 3-D printing, thanks to a new technique developed at Caltech.

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molecular structure of the solar-fuel catalyst developed at Caltech

February 6, 2018

Production of Solar Fuels Inches Closer with Discovery by Caltech Scientists


Caltech researchers have made a discovery that they say could lead to the economically viable production of solar fuels in the next few years.

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Molecular structure of an enzyme based on the protein cytochrome c

November 29, 2017

Teaching Life a New Trick: Bacteria Make Boron-Carbon Bonds


Findings will lead to new and "greener" ways to manufacture drugs and other products.

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Satellite images of Shasta Lake

November 22, 2017

Engineers Model the California Reservoir Network


Study offers reservoir managers insight on how to plan and respond to drought conditions.

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LEDs

November 20, 2017

The Microscopic Origin of Efficiency Droop in LEDs


Semiconductor study shows that the coupling between electrons and thermal vibrations may be sapping energy from LEDs.

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Caltech's 2017 Dow-SISCA Grand Prize winners

November 17, 2017

Meet Caltech's 2017 Dow-SISCA Winners!


Congratulations to our 2017 Dow-Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award winners! Grand Prize Winners: Wen-Hui (Sophia) Cheng & Matthias Richter for their breakthrough device for splitting water with sunlight to make hydrogen fuel with remarkable efficiency! AND Runner Ups: Julian West, Bryan Hunter, Anthony Chen & David Schuman for development of a C–H oxidation process that is sustainable by design!

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Flow Rocket Fund Logo

Fall 2017

FLOW Rocket Fund Sparks New University Startups

Five cleantech startups are powering towards commercial success, thanks to awards from the FLOW Rocket Fund grant program.

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Aditya Mohite

October 2, 2017

Aditya Mohite Honored with 2017 Resonate Award


Aditya Mohite announced winner of the 2017 Resonate Award for his research developing two-dimensional and thin-film materials for high-performance solar electricity generation.

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abstract ocean desal image

August 15, 2017

A More Efficient Way to Drink the Ocean


Increasingly, landlubbers with better access to the ocean than to sources of freshwater are also employing technology that enables them to drink water from the sea. And a pair of students in Caltech’s PhD program, Jinglin Huang and Cong Wang, are developing a way to improve that technology.

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Leaf Image from JCAP

August 3, 2017

Carbon Conversion


A new additive helps researchers more selectively convert CO2 to multicarbon fuels.

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report cover

July 20, 2017

Reducing Caltech's Carbon Footprint


The Institute makes significant gains in energy efficiency, water savings, and electric vehicle support.

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Research image: Scanning electron microscope image of calcite.
Credit: Adam Subhas/Caltech

July 17, 2017

Key to Speeding Up Carbon Sequestration Discovered


Scientists at Caltech and USC identify how to encourage the chemical reaction by which carbon dioxide is locked away in the ocean.

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Research image: scanning ultrafast electron microscopy shows the diffusion of electrons in silicon over a period of picosconds

June 15, 2017

"Hot" Electrons Move Faster Than Expected


New study opens the door to solid-state devices that use excited electrons. A team led by Caltech's Marco Bernardi and the late Ahmed Zewail documented the electrons' motion using microscopes that captured images with a shutter speed of a trillionth of a second at a nanometer-scale spatial resolution. Their findings appear in a study published in Nature Communications on May 11.

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Process Diagram

June 12, 2017

Researchers Find a Surprise Just Beneath the Surface in Carbon Dioxide Experiment


In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers report the mechanics behind an early key step in artificially activating CO2 so that it can rearrange itself to become the liquid fuel ethanol.

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Tractor Image

May 25, 2017

Nitrogen Fixation Research Could Shed Light on Biological Mystery


New Process Could Make Fertilizer Production More Sustainable: Inspired by a natural process found in certain bacteria, a team of Caltech researchers is inching closer to a new method for producing fertilizer that could some day hold benefits for farmers—particularly in the developing world—while also shedding light on a biological mystery.

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Flow Logo

May 22, 2017

Meet FLOW's 2017 Cleantech UP Winners!


The University of Houston’s Vescence won the US Department of Energy sponsored $50,000 Cleantech UP prize at our 2017 First Look West (FLOW) competition. Vescence’s patented water repellant coating minimizes contaminant buildup on solar panels, significantly improving electrical output while reducing maintenance costs.

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 Congressman Adam Schiff, Francesca Hopkins of UC Riverside

April 26, 2017

Climate Change Panel Strikes Hopeful Note


On Friday, April 21—the evening before Earth Day—Congressman Adam Schiff hosted a climate change panel discussion at Caltech. Schiff and each of the three panelists gave an opening statement, then took questions from an audience of nearly 800 constituents and local community members.

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Marchers

April 24, 2017

A March for Science


More than a thousand people—both from across Caltech and from various surrounding communities—gathered on Beckman Lawn on Saturday, April 22 before marching together through Pasadena in celebration of science.

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Adam Wierman

April 11, 2017

How Clean is the Cloud?


Computing "in the cloud" may sound ephemeral, but the cloud actually has a physical presence in the form of data centers filled with thousands of servers. The power infrastructure needed to run these servers is enormous. In fact, at this point in time, data centers lead to more carbon emissions than the airline industry.

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Molecule

April 4, 2017

'Detergent' Molecules May Be Driving Fluctuations in Atmospheric Methane Concentrations


New study suggests hydroxyl radicals may be behind unexplained recent increase in methane levels.

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John Gregoire

March 6, 2017

New Materials Could Turn Water into the Fuel of the Future


A new materials discovery approach puts solar fuels on the fast track to commercial viability.

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graphic

February 24, 2017

Getting Rid of the Last Bits of Sulfur in Fuel


Scientists led by a team at Caltech have developed a new method for potentially removing nearly all sulfur compounds from gas and diesel fuel.

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A methane plume spotted in the Four Corners region by the TOPDOWN campaign

January 19, 2017

Tools and Techniques to Track and Study Methane


How do you find, track, and quantify the release of a colorless and odorless gas?

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Flow Competition Participants

January 6, 2017

FLOW’s Rocket Fund Wins Grant and Launches Cleantech 2 Edtech


Our FLOW Rocket Fund was named an LA 2050 Grants Challenge winner! The Fund will use the $100,000 award to launch Cleantech 2 Edtech. This initiative will partner promising clean energy and water technologies developed by young cleantech companies with the LAUSD and LADWP to pilot them.

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Adam Wierman

December 20, 2016

Caltech Computes: Disrupting and Uniting Science and Engineering


Driven by the disruptive force of computer science—which increasingly impacts how researchers work and collaborate by providing them with the ability to extract meaningful information from enormous data sets—whole new fields are developing at the intersection of science and engineering that will shape our future.

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Nanoscale Image

December 19, 2016

Building Better Batteries


Lithium-ion batteries, widely used in devices ranging from electric cars to iPhones, are composed of a cathode made from a positively charged lithium compound and an anode composed of negatively charged carbon. Ideally, anodes would be made of lithium metal, which can store more energy than carbon. However, lithium metal anodes have a serious flaw—over time, the lithium metal grows dendrites, tiny needle-like branching structures that can grow through the battery causing it to short-circuit or even explode.

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Floating Ice

December 19, 2016

Satellites Observe "Traffic Jams" in Antarctic Ice Stream Caused by Tides


Studies on glacial movement could yield important data for scientists looking to model how glaciers will respond to the effects of climate change.

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Patricia Tavormina

December 16, 2016

Lessons from Aliso Canyon


"The Aliso Canyon leak is disaster but it's also an opportunity to study this unusual environmental perturbation experiment," says Victoria Orphan, James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science and Geobiology at Caltech.

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France Córdova

December 14, 2016

Director of National Science Foundation Visits Caltech


France Córdova (PhD '79), director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), recently visited Caltech to meet with students and researchers, and to give a talk about the role of the NSF in advancing basic science research—and in translating that knowledge into future technologies.

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Caltech's 2016 Dow-SISCA winners

December 13, 2016

Dow and Caltech's Resnick Institute Award SISCA Prize to Recognize Student Innovations in Sustainability


Winners are working on sustainable chemical synthesis and solar power seawater desalination technologies.

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Bill Gates and Dianne Newman

November 30, 2016

Bill Gates Blogs about Visit to Caltech


"I've rarely been as envious of young people as I was during my recent visit to Caltech," Gates wrote --Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates blogged about his recent visit to Caltech and his thoughts on the pioneering research being done here.

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nanoscale image of cement

November 30, 2016

Weathering of Cement is an Important but Overlooked Sink for Carbon Dioxide


A new multinational study led by Resnick Prize Postdoctoral Scholar Zhu Liu shows that cement acts as a significant carbon dioxide (CO2) sink, one that has hitherto gone unaccounted for in global carbon-cycle analyses.

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Jennifer Kan

November 24, 2016

Bringing Silicon to Life


A new study is the first to show that living organisms can be persuaded to make silicon-carbon bonds—something only chemists had done before. Scientists at Caltech "bred" a bacterial protein to have the ability to make the man-made bonds, a finding that has applications in several industries.

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Zhu Liu

November 3, 2016

Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar Zhu Liu Named One of World's Top 25 Green Talents


Resnick Postdoctoral Scholar Zhu Liu was one of 25 young scientists invited to participate in the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research's (BMBF) Green Talents initiative for high-potential early career researchers in the field of sustainable development.

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Julia Kornfield

Fall 2016

The Dow Chemical Company and the Resnick Institute Partner to Solve Sustainability Challenges


What if we could make LEDs brighter, cooler and longer lived? Or reduce the energy required to make seawater drinkable? Or design new materials to improve the energy efficiency of buildings? Through a partnership between the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech and The Dow Chemical Company, we are working to make the next generation of materials and systems for a more sustainable future.

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Trees

September 13, 2016

Engineers Teach Machines to Recognize Tree Species


Engineers from Caltech have developed a method that uses data from satellite and street-level images, such as the ones that you can see in Google maps, to create automatically an inventory of street trees that cities may use to better manage urban forests.

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Xiaolin Zheng

September 12, 2016

Xiaolin Zheng Honored with 2016 Resonate Award


Xiaolin Zheng has been announced the winner of the 2016 Resonate Award for her research aimed at developing new, scalable and low cost methods to fabricate materials for clean energy technologies

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Symposium Updates

September 9, 2016

Presenting the Next Generation of Sustainable Research


Up-and-coming researchers from across the country will gather at Caltech's Ramo Auditorium on September 12 for the first-ever Resnick Young Investigators Symposium, an event aimed at spurring collaboration and innovation among scientists and engineers interested in sustainability.

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Resnick Fellows

June 12, 2016

Year-end Accolades for Resnick Fellows


Congratulations to Resnick Fellows Jackson Cahn, Michael Webb, Subrahmanyam Duvvuri and Anton Toutov! All have received honors for their exceptional work!

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ev charging station

April 25, 2016

Smart Charging Network for EVs Installed at Caltech

In an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in our environment and begin a campuswide shift to the use of renewable resources, a research group led by Steven Low, professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the engineering and applied science division (-And Resnick Institute faculty board member), has installed 54 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for use by all Caltech and JPL personnel and visitors.

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Sonja Francis and Colleague

April 22, 2016

Resnick Sustainability Institute Boosts Caltech's Earth Day Celebration

The Resnick Sustainability Institute—Caltech's hub for projects aimed at tackling some of the toughest sustainability-focused problems our society faces—played a key role in Caltech's Earth Week celebration, during which various events were held to show support for environmental protection and achieving a sustainable future.

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info Graphic

April 21, 2016

Even Before the Drought, Caltech Set Sights on Water Conservation

The California drought has become increasingly dire since its onset in 2012, recently prompting state officials to implement mandatory water use reductions of 25 percent. Various municipalities, including Pasadena, have urged even greater conservation. At Caltech that call to action has been more of an affirmation of efforts already under way for more than a decade.

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Paul Wennberg

April 18, 2016

Aliso Canyon, Methane, and Global Climate: A Conversation with Paul Wennberg

Wennberg is Caltech's R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering, executive officer for Environmental Science and Engineering, and director of the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science. Caltech news recently sat down with him to talk about methane emissions and how to put the Aliso Canyon event into perspective.

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Nate Lewis

January 21, 2016

Where Is Solar Energy Headed?

In a new paper in Science, Nate Lewis, the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, reviews recent developments in solar-energy utilization and looks at some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the research and development of solar-electricity, solar-thermal, and solar-fuels technologies.

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Flow Rocket Fund Logo

January 7, 2016

FLoW Rocket Fund Propels New University Startups Towards Success

Four first-time entrepreneurs have received a timely boost of money from the Resnick Sustainability Institute’s FLoW program that will help them realize their dream of starting a successful cleantech venture.

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