Xin's 3D printer proved the concept by making metamaterials from metals, plastics and other proprietary substances to create porous plastic balls with tiny copper wire circuit boards. When configured in a precise geometrical pattern they bend waves around objects using negative refraction.
"We incorporated active semiconductor devices into the passive structures that can compensate loss, even provide gain, potentially broaden the bandwidth as well as provide additional degree of freedom in design" Xin told us.
So far Xin has built small prototypes on his 3D printer using only a few metamaterial cells with gain. Xin's next step in his research is study how to use gain to increase the number of cells to cloak larger objects and eventually to build real applications.
"We eventually want build large scale objects using this technique. One challenge is to guarantee the stability of this kind of metamaterials, especially for larger scale objects using 100s or more unit cells," Xin told us. "We would like to explore increasing the bandwidth of this kind of metamaterial."
Beside merely cloaking objects for the United States Department of Defense, Xin hopes to build applications in other fields. "We would like to find realistic applications and implement them,"Xin told us. "Examples include compact and high performance antennas, biomedical imaging devices, and many others related to wireless communication and sensing."
Xin's predicts that he will achieve visible wavelength invisibility cloaks within his lifetime. His research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
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