Mind & Matter

 

Controlling Light With Metamaterials

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Metamaterial device developed by Duke University.

 

The advancement of many technologies brings about their dematerialization. Telecommunications systems greatly benefited from the replacement of heavy wires with optical fibers carrying light, for example.

A recent material developed by a research team at Duke University promises another significant breakthrough—the ability to control light in a similar way that electronics control moving electrons.

A prototype of the team’s “metamaterial” device is composed of parallel fiberglass strips, which intersect with diode-filled copper circles that detect the presence of light. The device effectively doubles the incoming light, directing second harmonic waves as desired by the user.

"The trend in telecommunications is definitely optical," says graduate researcher Alec Rose. "To be able to control light in the same manner that electronics control currents will be an important step in transforming telecommunications technologies."

 

 
 

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.