Chain Mail Metamaterials

Metamaterials have the ability to create new properties because of the way they are structured instead of the properties being simply dependent on the materials that are used. Most metals are good conductors and have well known colors based on the wavelength of light they reflect. But if structures are formed in the metal that are smaller than the wavelengths of electricity and light, they can be designed to insulate electric current and reflect different colors. These principles seem to offer similar opportunities across the full electromagnetic spectrum and with sound also. Metamaterials are used to focus, filter, redirect, and alter energy patterns for many applications.

Chain mail armor may have been developed as early as the fourth century BC, but became widely used in the Middle Ages. Chain mail is a protective mesh made from small metal rings interlocked with each other in a pattern. Mail is flexible, light, and easy to repair, but not as effective as heavier plate armor.

Scientists have used a high definition 3D printer to print micron sized rings that are then coated with a semiconductor. This creates a metamaterial that can reverse an electromagnetic factor.

Metamaterial: Mail Armor Inspires Physicists – [kit.edu]

The Middle Ages certainly were far from being science-friendly: Whoever looked for new findings off the beaten track faced the threat of being burned at the stake. Hence, the contribution of this era to technical progress is deemed to be rather small. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), however, were inspired by medieval mail armor when producing a new metamaterial with novel properties. They succeeded in reversing the Hall coefficient of a material.

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