Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Who Says Perfectionism is a Bad Quality?

Scientists have created the first metamaterial made solely of metallic elements, that is able to absorb all the light that hits it with perfection. Metamaterials are artificially constructed materials that have extraordinary properties and are revolutionizing physics, especially in the fields of optics and electromagnetism.

While natural materials use light in a limited number of ways, manmade metamaterials gain their unusual properties from their structure (rather than their composition) and can be developed to have properties beyond those of nature, allowing humans to control light in ways that were previously impossible. The metamaterial engineered by scientists from Duke University and Boston College has a particular geometric surface, which allows it to completely absorb microwaves.

Using computer simulations based on previous data, researchers created the metamaterial by designing resonators capable of individually joining to electric and magnetic components of an electromagnetic wave.

Ultimately, structure (how its molecules and atoms are arranged) alone allows the metamaterial to absorb all the light instead of reflecting or transmitting it. The actual material doesn't play a major role in how the metamaterial controls the light that it comes in contact with. However, because this metamaterial is composed of purely metallic elements, it is flexible enough to be highly favorable in applications related to light detection and collection.

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