Nav: Home

Metamaterial device allows chameleon-like behavior in the infrared

October 27, 2016

An electric current will not only heat a hybrid metamaterial, but will also trigger it to change state and fade into the background like a chameleon in what may be the proof-of-concept of the first controllable metamaterial device, or metadevice, according to a team of engineers.

"Previous metamaterials work focused mainly on cloaking objects so they were invisible in the radio frequency or other specific frequencies," said Douglas H. Werner, John L. and Genevieve H. McCain Chair Professor of electrical engineering, Penn State. "Here we are not trying to make something disappear, but to make it blend in with the background like a chameleon and we are working in optical wavelengths, specifically in the infrared."

Metamaterials are synthetic, composite materials that possess qualities not seen in natural materials. These composites derive their functionality by their internal structure rather than by their chemical composition. Existing metamaterials have unusual electromagnetic or acoustic properties. Metadevices take metamaterials and do something of interest or value as any device does.

"The key to this metamaterial and metadevice is vanadium dioxide, a phase change crystal with a phase transition that is triggered by temperatures created by an electric current," said Lei Kang, research associate in electrical engineering, Penn State.

The metamaterial is composed of a base layer of gold thick enough so that light cannot pass through it. A thin layer of aluminum dioxide separates the gold from the active vanadium dioxide layer. Another layer of aluminum dioxide separates the vanadium from a gold-patterned layer that is attached to an external electric source. The geometry of the patterned mesh screen controls the functional wavelength range. The amount of current flowing through the device controls the Joule heating effect, the heating due to resistance.

"The proposed metadevice integrated with novel transition materials represents a major step forward by providing a universal approach to creating self-sufficient and highly versatile nanophotonic systems," the researchers said in today's (Oct. 27) issue of Nature Communications.

As a proof of concept, the researchers created a .035 inch by .02 inch device and cut the letters PSU into the gold mesh layer so the vanadium dioxide showed through. The researchers photographed the device using an infrared camera at 2.67 microns. Without any current flowing through the device, the PSU stands out as highly reflective. With a current of 2.03 amps, the PSU fades into the background and becomes invisible, while at 2.20 amps, the PSU is clearly visible but the background has become highly reflective.

The response of the vanadium dioxide is tunable by altering the current flowing through the device. According to the researchers, vanadium dioxide can change state very rapidly and it is the device configuration that limits the tuning.
-end-
Also working on this project were Liu Liu, recent Ph.D. graduate now at Intel and Theresa S. Mayer, vice president for research and innovation, Virginia Tech.

The National Science Foundation partially funded this work.

Penn State

Related Metamaterials Articles:

Researchers use metamaterials to create two-part optical security features
Researchers have developed advanced optical security features that use a two-piece metamaterial system to create a difficult-to-replicate optical phenomenon.
Artificial intelligence (AI) designs metamaterials used in the invisibility cloak
The research group of Prof. Junsuk Rho, Sunae So and Jungho Mun of Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Chemical Engineering at POSTECH developed a design with a higher degree of freedom which allows to choose materials and to design photonic structures arbitrarily by using Deep Learning.
Scientists take a 'metamaterials' approach to earthquake damage
At the SSA 2019 Annual Meeting, seismologists from around the world will discuss how metamaterial theory might be applied to everything from developing deflective barriers to manipulating the layout of buildings within a city as a way to minimize the impact of damaging surface seismic waves.
Fast and selective optical heating for functional nanomagnetic metamaterials
In a recent article published in Nanoscale, researchers from the Nanomagnetism group at nanoGUNE demonstrate the use of hybrid magnetic-plasmonic elements to facilitate contactless and selective temperature control in magnetic functional metamaterials.
Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties
A team of engineers has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is possible using conventional optical or electronic materials.
More Metamaterials News and Metamaterials Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...