Metamaterial research gets £4.9million funding

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Researchers at Imperial College London, working in collaboration with scientists at the University of Southampton, has received £4.9million from the Leverhulme Trust to support their work in developing metamaterials.

Metamaterials have a carefully designed internal structure that interacts with light and other electromagnetic waves in ways that produce effects not seen in nature. Scientists believe metamaterials can control the movement and direction of radiation, opening up potential applications in fields such as medicine, security, imaging, telecommunications and data processing. The researchers are exploring the potential of developing a true cloaking device. Such a device would 'grab' light as it approaches and force it to flow smoothly around the cloak. Meanwhile, metamaterials could be used to build a 'perfect lens' microscope that would enable scientists to look at objects smaller than the wavelength of light being used – something that has never been achieved using optical microscopes. Professor Stefan Maier from Imperial's Department of Physics is co leader of the project. "What we are aiming at are structures that are easy to make, but that can give us a level of control over the flow of radiation thought impossible until now. For example, we can make surfaces that guide terahertz or even radiofrequency waves along them, with their energy highly concentrated right there at the surface, extending only a tiny fraction of the wavelength away from it. This might greatly improve the sensitivity of terahertz sensing devices and allow new ways to harness low frequency radiation."