Metamaterials are man-made materials that have properties often absent in natural materials. They are constructed to provide exquisite control over the properties of waves, such as light. Creating these materials for visible light is still a technological challenge that has traditionally been achieved by lithography, in which metallic patterns are etched onto an inert material, much like an ink-jet printer.
These are nanocubes.
Credit: Cristian Ciraci
As effective as lithography has been in creating such structures, it does have a limitation – it is very expensive and thus difficult to scale up to the large surface areas required for many applications.
"Our new approach is more of a bottom-up process," said Cristian Ciracì, research scientist at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "It may allow us to create devices – such as efficient solar panels – that cover much larger areas. In our experiments, we demonstrated an extraordinarily simple method to achieve this."
The results of Ciracì and co-workers' experiments, which were conducted in the laboratory of senior researcher David R. Smith, William Bevan Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke, were published Dec. 6 in the journal Nature.
For many applications or devices, the key is the material's ability to control the absorption of electromagnetic waves. Metals, for example, can be highly reflective on their own, which may be beneficial for some applications, but for something like a solar cell, optimal light absorption is desired.
"However, metamaterials based on metallic elements are particularly efficient as absorbers because both the electrical and magnetic properties of the material can be controlled by how we design them," Ciracì said.
The new metamaterial developed by the Duke team has three major components – a thin layer of gold film coated with a nano-thin layer of an insulator, topped off with a dusting of millions of self-assembled nanocubes. In the current experiments, the nanocubes were fabricated out of silver.
"The nanocubes are literally scattered on the gold film and we can control the properties of the material by varying the geometry of the construct," Ciracì said. "The absorptivity of large surface areas can now be controlled using this method at scales out of reach of lithography."
While metals on their own tend to have reflective properties, the nanocubes act as tiny antennae that can cancel out the reflectance of the metal surface.S
"By combining different components of the metamaterial elements together into a single composite, more complicated reflectance spectra could be engineered, achieving a level of control needed in more exotic applications, such as dynamic inks," Ciracì said.
The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and by the Army Research Office's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI).
The other members of the team were first author Antoine Moreau, Clermont University, France; Duke's Ryan Hill, Jack Mock, Benjamin Wiley and Ashutosh Chilkoti; and Qiang Wang from the Capital Normal University, Beijing.
"Controlled-reflectance surfaces with film-coupled colloidal nanoantennas," A. Moreau, C. Ciraci, J. Mock, R. Hill, Q. Wang, B. Wiley, and A. Chilkoti. Nature, 6 Dec., 201
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences