Metamaterials with new electromagnetic properties
The development of new types of artificial materials, known as “metamaterials” and with electromagnetic properties not found in nature, is the aim of the Metamorphose Excellence European Network, of which the Public University of Navarre forms part, together with twenty-one other research institutions from 13 European countries.
Perfect plane lenses
Metamaterials are electromagnetic and multifunctional artificial materials, created in order to comply with certain specifications. They involve materials that have properties superior to those found in nature. Development of these materials will give rise to new optical, microwave and radio technologies, based on new revolutionary materials which derive from the large-scale amalgamation of basic elements (nanoscopic and microscopic) in heretofore unprecedented combinations.
These electromagnetic materials are destined to fulfil a fundamental role in the function and enhancement of the electronic devices and components of the future, such as high-speed circuits, multifunctional and miniature aerials, high-resolution image systems and garment-integrated communication systems, amongst other applications. In the last analysis, these systems are built from substrates and superstrates the electromagnetic response functions of which determine the design and operation of systems.
For example, recently the theoretical concept for perfect planar lenses made with negative-refraction index (“left-handed”) metamaterials. These perfect lenses would enable resolution limitations in many optical and electromagnetic systems to be overcome and go beyond the diffraction limits of conventional materials. Just with this concrete example multiple applications in several information technology and life science areas can be predicted such as, for example, enhanced image systems, higher capacity systems for the optical storage of data, more compact integrated optical telecommunications solutions.
Creation of a Virtual Research Institute
The joint activities of the Metamorphose Network are to involve research on composite materials with extreme electromagnetic properties (such as left-handed mediums and materials with negative-refraction indexes), electrically controllable material, quasi- periodical fractals and structures, artificial surfaces, etc.
It can also be pointed out that the strategic aim of development of new metamaterials involves the opening of a new line of research in the multidisciplinary field of materials physics, electromagnetism, optics, radio and electronic engineering. Moreover, Metamorphose wishes to serve as a tool in joint research through the creation of a Virtual Institute which will pull together efforts in key research areas, extending excellence and transferring the new technology to European industry. This Institute is expected to continue functioning once the EU funding period expires, co-ordinating, managing and controlling the joint research projects of the participating bodies and institutions.
There is also a plan to create an international PhD programme in this new field, as well as a university school for metamaterials.
Iñaki Casado Redin
Nafarroako Unibertsitate Publikoa
(+34) 948 16 97 82
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