Wireless communications and optical computing could soon get a significant boost in speed, thanks to “slow light” and specialized metamaterials through which it travels. Researchers have made the first demonstration of rapidly switching on and off “slow light” in specially designed materials at room temperature. This work opens the possibility to design novel, chip-scale, ultrafast devices for applications in terahertz wireless communications and all-optical computing.
To understand the progression of complex diseases such as cancer, scientists have had to tease out the interactions between cells at progressively finer scales—from the behavior of a single tumor cell in the body on down to the activity of that cell’s inner machinery. To foster such discoveries, mechanical engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are designing tools to image and analyze cellular dynamics at the micro- and nanoscale.
The field of metamaterials involves augmenting materials with specially designed patterns, enabling those materials to manipulate electromagnetic waves and fields in previously impossible ways. Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a theory for moving this phenomenon onto the quantum scale, laying out blueprints for materials where electrons have nearly zero effective mass.
Microscopic metallic cubes, developed by Duke University, could unleash the enormous potential of metamaterials to absorb light, leading to more efficient and cost-effective large-area absorbers for sensor applications or energy-harvesting devices.
A bit reminiscent of the Terminator T-1000, a new material created by Cornell University researchers is so soft that it can flow like a liquid and then, strangely, return to its original shape. Rather than liquid metal, it is a hydrogel, a mesh of organic molecules with many small empty spaces that can absorb water like a sponge. It qualifies as a "metamaterial" with properties not found in nature and may be the first organic metamaterial with mechanical metaproperties.
Using a combination metamaterials and transformation optics, engineers at Penn State University have developed designs for miniaturized optical devices that can be used in chip-based optical integrated circuits, the equivalent of the integrated electronic circuits that make possible computers and cell phones. Controlling light on a microchip could, in the short term, improve optical communications and allow sensing of any substance that interacts with electromagnetic waves.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have fabricated a 3D, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision. The concave lens exhibits a property called negative refraction, bending electromagnetic waves in exactly the opposite sense from which a normal concave lens would work.
The first functional "cloaking" device reported by Duke University electrical engineers in 2006 worked like a charm, but it wasn't perfect. Now a member of that laboratory has developed a new design that ties up one of the major loose ends from the original device. These new findings could be important in transforming how light or other waves can be controlled or transmitted.
In waveguides, such as those used in fiber optics, light has a tendency to reflect backwards, interfering with transmission of data. Today’s optical networks keep light from reflecting backward with devices called isolators. To help enable computer chips that operate with light, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a new metamaterial prevents electromagnetic waves from reflecting backward.
Over the past two decades, scientists have managed to create artificial materials whose refractive indices are negative: light is bent in the "wrong" direction. These materials might have several technological applications, including cloaking. Recently, a new technique for creating these metamaterials using kinetic inductance shows promise for dramatic miniaturization of future metamaterials systems.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have created the world's smallest 3D optical cavities with the potential to generate the world's most intense nanolaser beams. By alternating super-thin multiple layers of silver and germanium, the researchers fabricated an "indefinite metamaterial" from which they created their 3D optical cavities.
Over the past five years mathematicians and other scientists have been working on devices that enable invisibility cloaks. Recent work involving a University of Washington mathematician has resulted in a new solution: an amplifier that boosts light, sound, or other waves while hiding them inside an invisible container. Its developers are calling it Schrödinger's hat.
Researchers are edging toward the creation of new optical technologies using "nanostructured metamaterials" capable of ultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applications including advanced solar cells and quantum computing.
It's not magic, but new materials designed by two Northwestern University researchers seem to exhibit magical properties. Some contract when they should expand, and others expand when they should contract.
Researchers have taken a step toward overcoming a key obstacle in commercializing "hyperbolic metamaterials," structures that could bring optical advances including ultrapowerful microscopes, computers, and solar cells. The researchers have shown how to create the metamaterials without the traditional silver or gold previously required.
Pentamodes, proposed in 1995 by Graeme Milton and Andrej Cherkaev, have until now been purely theoretical. They exist when the mechanical behavior of materials such as gold or water is expressed in terms of compression and shear parameters. Materials experts in Germany have, for the first time, built such a pentamode material, and it’s called a metafluid for a specific reason.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have designed a method to evaluate different conductors for use in metamaterial structures, which are engineered to exhibit properties not possible in natural materials.
In a recent series of experiments, a Duke University team demonstrated that a metamaterial construct they developed could create holograms—like the images seen on credit or bank cards—in the infrared range of light, something that has not been done before.
Researchers in applied physics have cleared an important hurdle in the development of advanced materials, called metamaterials, that bend light in unusual ways. Working at a scale applicable to infrared light, the Harvard University team has used extremely short and powerful laser pulses to create 3D patterns of tiny silver dots within a material. Those suspended metal dots are essential for building futuristic devices like invisibility cloaks.
By using exotic man-made materials, scientists from Duke University and Boston College believe they can greatly enhance the forces of electromagnetism (EM), one of the four fundamental forces of nature, without harming living beings or damaging electrical equipment.
The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.
Researchers in the United States, for the first time, cloaked a 3D object standing in free space, bringing the much-talked-about invisibility cloak one step closer to reality. Whilst previous studies have either been theoretical in nature or limited to the cloaking of 2D objects, this study shows how ordinary objects can be cloaked in their natural environment in all directions and from all of an observer's positions.
A Michigan Technological University researcher has taken a major step toward creating superlens that could use viable light to see objects as small as 100 nm across. The secret, he says, lies in plasmons, charge oscillations near the surface of thin metal films that combine with special nanostructures.
Careful design of metamaterials has allowed scientists to build structures that can guide electromagnetic light waves around an object, forming an invisibility cloak. According to recent work at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, this concept may also be transferred to other types of waves, such as sound waves.
Managing light to carry computer data is possible today with laser light beams that are guided along a fiber-optic cable. These waves consist of countless billions of photons, which carry information down the fiber across continents. A research team at the University of Alberta wants to refine the optical transmission of information by using a single photon.