Metamaterials are natural materials that can tweak their structure to achieve properties that are not available in natural materials, with compact designs and enhanced performance.
We know that light and time travel only in the forward direction. But, have you ever wondered if we could be able to change their direction? This concept was first addressed by a Russian physicist named, Victor Veselago, in 1967.
20 years ago, physicists John Pendry and David Smith with his team, demonstrated engineered structures which could allow light to bend. This amazing concept has been showcased in various Hollywood movies like Harry Potter, Doctor Strange and so on, where the actor wears a certain coat or armour and become invisible to the enemy. What makes the actor become invisible? This is because light falling on the coat is bent and travels further without penetrating the material. This restricts the reflection of the light back to our eyes, which makes that object invisible.
Metamaterial: ‘meta’ means ‘artificial’. As the design of these materials alters their properties, like refractive index which allows and controls the light passing through any material, to command on its behaviour, which has been achieved through various engineering marvellous techniques. The history of metamaterials dates back to the times of Dr. Jagdish Chandra Bose, an Indian scientist who studied substances with the chiral property of materials.
Metamaterials are natural materials engineered to tweak their characteristics to achieve properties that are not available in natural materials, with compact designs and enhanced performance. Natural materials have positive refractive indices, whereas metamaterials have negative refractive indices; either in terms of permeability or permittivity or both are structured to be negative.
The lens we use in mobile phones or digital cameras are engineered to be smaller so that it can capture details through maximum pixel resolution which may not be possible through the normal lens. Electronic systems are becoming compact and cheap with better working experience due to the introduction of synthetic designs achieved by scientists and engineers in the arena of research and development.
Metamaterials are attracting every field due to their unique properties and can benefit several applications. Though the domain is young with only two decades of its active presence in the field of research and development, it has exponentially risen and still rising. Metamaterials are useful in every field of application where people starve for compactness, light-weight and best performance of any system. It is expected to grow further to break the limits of imagination and engineering systems design and performance!
Edited by: Anomitra Dey