This morning, we visited the California Institute of Technology, better known as Caltech. Rebecca Saive, an assistant professor at the University of Twente who has worked at Caltech before, arranged the visit and was our guide for the day. We started off with a tour around the campus.
Caltech is situated in the heart of Pasadena, which is located 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. In contrast to the other Universities we visited, Caltech is a privately funded University. The Cal- tech campus is approximately a half square km, which is about three times smaller than the UTwente campus. The design of the buildings is influenced by the tradi- tional Spanish mission architecture of Southern California.
The housing system at Caltech is comparable to that in Harry Potter, there are several Houses from which freshmen can choose. A House is both a place in which the majority of its members reside, as well as a center of social activity for its mem- bers. During the campus tour, we first passed the sports facilities, including baseball and soccer fields, swimming pools etc. Then we entered the real campus. We vis- ited the Athenaeum, a faculty club and private social club in a very stately building.
After the campus tour, we visited the Lewis research group. There we got a lab tour from Paul Nunez, a graduate student of the Lewis research group. Prof. Lewis graduated from Caltech with a B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry and obtained a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from MIT, therefore the research in his group is more chem- istry oriented. There is a close collaboration between the Lewis group and the more physics oriented Atwater group, since both are working in the same research fields.
One of the labs was designed for the atomic layer deposition (ALD) of amorphous TiO2 and surface functionalization processes. There were a lot of gloveboxes in the labs. Other labs contained a very fancy ALD device, a sputterer, 2 SEMs, a STM, a setup for ambient pressure XPS and an XRD device.
After the Lewis lab tour we had lunch in the Chandler Café, where we could choose from all kinds of food, like rolled-while-you-wait sushi, deli, grill, Mongolian BBQ, pizza and more. Next up was the Atwater research group, which is the group Re- becca worked at. We got a lab tour from Megan Phelan, a graduate student of the Atwater group, and got the opportunity to speak to professor Harry Atwater as well.
In the tour, we first saw the so-called wet lab, with equipment for all the wet pro- cesses and some tube furnaces. Then we saw the dry lab, which contained among others a sputterer and an MBE device. Again, there were a lot of gloveboxes in which the perovskites were treated. We also saw an optics lab with confocal micro- scope, an AFM and a solar simulator connected to a microscope.
In the afternoon, Rebecca showed us around campus a bit more, and we visited the library tower, from where we got a nice view over the campus. It should be mentioned that half of our group got stuck in the elevator for 20 minutes on the way up, which was quite the experience.
When they finally got freed, we headed to the gift shop where we said goodbye to Rebecca, and everyone went off to get dinner. Some groups went to Sonic Drive- in because we heard there would be waiters on rollerskates there, but this ended up not being the case, sadly.
In the evening, we all went to a baseball game. The local Los Angeles Dodgers took on the Los Angeles Angels from Anaheim. Despite many of us wearing Dodgers merch to support the home team, they went on to lose 2-3. It was a great experience nonetheless!