The development, starting from the 2000s, of metamaterials in research laboratories all over the world, suggests a future industrialization for some of them. Let’s see in which industrial sectors this phenomenon is most advanced.
Since the famous invisibility cloak was developed in the laboratory in 2015, the general public has discovered the potential of metamaterials and their unprecedented properties. But the journey between the laboratory and the assembly line of a factory is often long and complicated. This is the case of many metamaterials, whose properties are expressed in very specific conditions, which are difficult to reproduce outside of research laboratories.
However, for several years, companies have been trying to develop products using metamaterials. This also applies to the invisibility cloak. Indeed, the American company Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. introducedin 2019, a prototype invisibility cloak, named Quantum stealth. The latter works without an energy source and allows you to make an object invisible by bending the light coming from behind the object to bring it forward. This prototype, the use of which is intended for the military field, was presented in this video.
Develop reprogrammable materials
Another trend in metamaterial properties that has emerged in recent years is the ability to develop reprogrammable materials. Specifically, a team of scientists has developed a metamaterial based on silicone and magnetic powder, which will act as a switch, switching on and off depending on the environmental magnetic field. The potential industrial applications are numerous, especially since this metamaterial is relatively easy to produce, by means of printing.
Splints were thus conceived, with the ability to adapt to the evolution of the lesion, something that does not happen today with existing devices. But it is above all in terms of digital storage of information that reprogrammable metamaterials are of interest to the industry. In fact, each of the cells of the metamaterial can be considered as a bit (memory unit of a hard disk) and function as such. It is this property that is currently of interest to the industry, wishing to reduce the size of these cells to fully exploit its potential.
Objectives based on metamaterials for unprecedented resolution
third example, lentils. For more than two decades, researchers have been developing networks of nanostructures to develop what are called superlenses. These innovative goals, in addition to their subtlety, have a resolution that was previously impossible to achieve in theory. These lenses are now functional, flat and act over the entire range of the visible spectrum. They also have a resolution below the wavelength of the visible range.
These lenses, usually made of titanium dioxide and a glass substrate, produced by lithography, allow manufacturers to imagine ultrathin devices. They could, for example, replace the lenses of the smartphones we use on a daily basis, with a much smaller footprint than existing devices, while offering much better resolution.
In the field of medical imaging, these metamaterials also make it possible to predict a revolutionary improvement in the performance of devices such as MRI.