Scientists from Edinburgh Napier University, led by Dr. Luigi La Spada, in collaboration with Queen Mary University of London and UK Industries (Qinetiq Group Ltd), have successfully developed a new method to realize surfaces, with properties non existing in nature, able to manipulate electromagnetic waves.
As first practical application, Dr. La Spada and his colleagues designed, manufactured and successfully tested a specially engineered surface material, curvilinear MetaSurface, with which they were able to render invisible, to the electromagnetic waves, the 3D object underneath.
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 devices 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 useful in different industrial sectors”.
A practical application of this surface can be envisioned in sensing and diagnostics: thanks to this material, it will be possible to obtain sensors which are able to adapt themselves to conform to any curvilinear body.
Moreover, curvilinear Metasurfaces can control and guide waves towards any direction and point in space: this leads the way to realize advanced antenna systems, also able to send/receive signals in difficult environments where obstacles are present.
Last but not least, the electromagnetic cloaking realized in this new research, is a crucial step towards the possibility of making military objects (i.e. aircraft) invisible to radars.
Dr. La Spada also added: “Unlike natural materials, the surface material (curvilinear MetaSurfaces) here developed can bend or curve waves due to the fact that its properties can be customized for specific and desired applications. 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 especially excited by such a new material (Curvilinear MetaSurface) design and manufacture technology, because now we are able to work with a greater range of frequencies than before. This makes crucial practical applications possible in different industrial sectors” Dr. La Spada explained.
The new findings have recently been published in Nature Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36451-8)