Metamaterials

Metamaterials are artificially created materials that exhibit characteristics not found in natural materials. These unique properties are often derived from the nanoscale structure of the material instead of from the chemical makeup. Most current references to metamaterials deal with interesting electromagnetic properties and often photonics or opto-electronics. One of the most exciting applications in this area is cloaking devices that create optical invisibility. Metamaterials have also been been used in applications dealing with acoustics and friction.

Metamaterials: The Next Photonics Revolution – [youtube.com]

November 23, 2009 — Phil Saunders of SpaceChannel.org and Nikolay Zheludev of the University of Southampton, U.K., have graciously permitted OPN to reproduce this fascinating video, which is related to Zheludevs October OPN feature on metamaterial-induced transparency. It explores the science behind metamaterials—crystalline-like sub-wavelength arrangements of electromagnetic resonators that can exhibit exotic optical properties such as negative refraction and cloaking. With a focus on work being conducted at the University of Southampton, the video describes how metamaterials may usher in the next global technological paradigm shift—the photonics revolution. By controlling light with light, scientists can use metamaterials to transform defense, security and global information networks in ways that previously seemed unimaginable. Video by SpaceChannel.org.

Metamaterial Revolution: The New Science of Making Anything Disappear – [discovermagazine.com]

The goal at hand, changing how objects interact with light, seemed at first blush to be routine; people had been manipulating visible light with mirrors and lenses and prisms nearly forever. But Zhang, a materials scientist then at the University of California at Los Angeles, knew those applications were limited. Based overwhelmingly on a single material, glass, the technologies were restricted by the laws of optics described in standard physics texts. The engineers in the room hoped to smash through those barriers with materials and technologies never conceived of before. The proposals included crafting what amounts to an array of billions of tiny relays; in essence, the relays would capture light and send it back out. Depending on the specific design of the array, the light would be bent, reflected, or skewed in different ways.

Metamaterials may eliminate friction – [scientistlive.com]

Nanoscale machines expected to have wide application in industry, energy, medicine and other fields may someday operate far more efficiently thanks to important theoretical discoveries concerning the manipulation of famous Casimir forces that took place at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.

The groundbreaking research, conducted through mathematical simulations, revealed the possibility of a new class of materials able to exert a repulsive force when they are placed in extremely close proximity to each other. The repulsive force, which harnesses a quantum phenomenon known as the Casimir effect, may someday allow nanoscale machines to overcome mechanical friction.

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