Scientists from Edinburgh Napier University (Dr. Luigi La Spada) in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London and UK Industries (Qinetiq Group Ltd) have successfully developed a new design method to realize bi-dimensional surfaces (with properties non existing in nature) able to manipulate electromagnetic waves.
As first practical application, Dr. La Spada and his colleagues manufactured and successfully tested a 2D surface that positioned on a curvilinear 3D object made the latter invisible to electromagnetic waves.
Even if the new findings are still far from a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak, the successful experiment will help scientists to develop new and advanced electromagnetic systems for commercial and industrial uses.
Dr. Luigi La Spada, first author, said in a statement: "The possibility to bend and manipulate electromagnetic waves at will is the key to develop technological and industrial solutions in the design of real-life platforms such as new types of devices (i.e. sensors and antennas) useful in different industrial sectors”.
In the experiment, the team covered a 3D object with a newly developed surface (MetaSurface), basically made of dielectric material in which very tiny metallic inclusions are present. Such a mixture gives the MetaSurface electromagnetic characteristics not present in traditional and natural materials.
As a consequence the 3D object became invisible to the electromagnetic waves.
Dr. La Spada, also added: “Unlike natural materials, MetaSurfaces can bend or curve waves via their physical structure rather than their chemical composition, essentially rendering objects undetectable from the electromagnetic point of view."
"We demonstrated a practical possibility to use MetaSurfaces to control the wave propagation through advanced additive manufacturing," La Spada explains.
“Most importantly, with this study, we propose a general theory for designing curvilinear MetaSurfaces with desired electromagnetic characteristics. Moreover, the manufacturing approach adopted (Qinetiq Group Ltd) is different from the methods existing in literature. It is cheap, scalable and can be used for more complex shapes”.
“We are excited of such a new MetaSurface design and manufacture technology, especially because now we are able to work with a greater range of frequencies, compared to what was previously done. This make possible crucial practical applications in different industrial sectors such as sensing and aerospace ” Dr. La Spada explained.
The new findings have been recently published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36451-8)
11 March 2019