Metamaterials – Invisibility or the definition of “black”

Autor: fee
Now this is the kind of stuff, that really makes me feel good…Of cours I am a Treckie!
Metamaterials, the name alone thrills me, are custom tailored materials composed of formations of atoms, themself harbouring very rare properties. Most of these so far generated Metamaterials were designed to interact with electromagnetic radiation, resulting in unique optical behaviour. The basic underlying structures are C-shaped molecules, ordened in arrays on a surface. The targeted electromagnetic wavelenght corresponds to the radius of the applied molecules. This enables scientists for example to develop a “superlens”, which bends light in a most uncommon trajectory allowing for optics with a negative index of refraction “beyond the usual laws of physics” (1) (2).
Another possibility of these Metamaterials would be the generation of “near perfect black” (Padilla et al. 2008 Epub Nature Vol. 453). To define the colour black means, that photons hitting the surface are absorbed and not reflected, so the more photons a surface can “catch”, the nearer to the absolute BLACK it would be. Therefore a surface was designed, which theoretically could catch 99% of all impingeing photons, leaving no radiation to generate a reflected colour/image. This could find use in several applications of ultra/sensitive optics or radiation handling to minimise background signals.
Another appealing approach is a cloaking device. I remember this from several science fiction movies, and also in older fairy tales, this idea had been dreamed off by story tellers. But in this case, it goes far beyond the stealth technology known from american army jets, which “only” deceive radar, but optically, they stay visible. With this new method, light is virtually channeled around an object and released behind it on the same trajectory, resulting in almost comlete invisibility (3)(4).
And if you start reading about these fancy “Metamaterials”, you end up feeling like real science fiction. The spectrum of applications for these materials is almost unlimited and we can look forward to the future using them.
In summary: I like these METAMATERIALS.

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  1. [...] have already written about Metamaterials and stated my sympathy for these fancy materials [here]. Metamaterial exhibit a negative refractory index, which is a rather uncommon feature and enables [...]

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