These frontier materials with unprecedented electromagnetic properties are already revolutionising telecommunications, transport and health.
Metamaterials offer extraordinary capacities in the fields of optics, acoustics, thermics and mechanics
Metamaterials are considered frontier materials, which means they are materials that do not have a natural origin but are created artificially to offer additional properties to conventional materials. In the case of metamaterials, their structure and arrangement are modified to offer unusual electromagnetic capacities.
Metamaterials interact with electromagnetic waves to adapt their properties. One of the most famous special capacities of metamaterials is that they modify the light refraction index, which can lead to invisibility. On hitting an object, these materials divert the light trajectory and make the object more visible or invisible. This capacity is still only possible in the lab and in very specific situations. Metamaterials also offer unprecedented properties in terms of acoustics, electromagnetics, thermics and mechanics.
Revolutionary applications of metamaterials
Although metamaterials have been around since the early 20th century, interest in them has soared recently thanks to advances in technology. There is extensive research in this field, and its applications are now being tested in such diverse areas as the automotive industry, medicine, electronics and telecommunications.
There is still a way to go before metamaterials are generally available in the marketplace, but several companies already sell products based on this type of frontier materials.
- MR Pads by Multiwave Imaging (Health). Pads that improve the brain imaging quality obtained from magnetic resonance scanners. The pads are placed on the temporal lobes of the brain, between the patient and the reception coil. MR Pads are designed using high permittivity metamaterials and heavy water, and require no software or additional hardware.
- Kit 300 by Polaris Solutions (Defence). Military camouflage technology that provides protection for soldiers in risky situations. This is a sheet of fabric that reflects radiation and makes soldiers invisible to sensors so that they go unnoticed. Kit 300 has been developed in the Polaris Solutions laboratories in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Defence.
- NANOWEB® by Meta® (Automotive). De-misting technology based on metamaterials. This is a transparent conductive film made of a nanostructured metal mesh that is invisible to the human eye, which reduces condensation and, consequently quickly de-mists a car’s windscreen. NANOWEB® generates heat on demand on windows or other transparent surfaces in all type of weather conditions, and is capable of reaching high levels of transmission and conductivity with very little mist. As well as de-icing car windows and windscreens, this technology is suitable for any glass or plastic surface and, therefore, can be embedded into glasses and lenses, RF antennas, etc.
- RIS (Reconfigurable Intelligent metaSurface) by ZTE (Telecommunications). A solution based on electromagnetic metamaterials and modern wireless communication technology. This is an avant-garde innovation in the field of wireless communication. It consists of the application of RIS, one of the central technologies of 5G-Advanced and 6G, in the 5G network. It improves network range, capacity and efficiency in dense urban areas, with lower costs and energy consumption. ZTE showed four types of RIS prototype at the 2022 Mobile World Congress.
- Hawk u8 by Kymeta (Telecommunications). A satellite antenna based on metamaterials that can be mounted on any vehicle or vessel. The terminal provides agile, permanent and seamless satellite or hybrid satellite/cellular connectivity while on the go via an integrated WIFI access point. Hawk u8 is based on the electronically steered antenna by Kymeta. The use of metamaterials provides for a smaller, more energy efficient design.
- Huawei Metaline Antenna by Huawei (Telecommunications). Wi-Fi antenna integrated into the new Huawei MateBook D 16 laptop to improve internet connection. This is a new technology based on metamaterials that receives weaker Wi-Fi signals better to optimise the internet connection. The HUAWEI Metaline antenna is capable of improving file download speeds by up to 55% with weak signals.
PUZZLE X: Accelerating solutions based on frontier materials
PUZZLE X™ 2022 , the global event on frontier technology in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is to be held from 15 to 17 November 2022 in Barcelona. This is a global initiative that brings together the scientific community, businesses, start-ups, and venture capital funds seeking to invest in innovative projects to transform frontier technologies into market solutions for a more sustainable future.
The second edition of PUZZLE X™ is to focus on quantum technologies and semiconductor chips, with use cases in sectors such as the automotive industry, finance, logistics, and manufacturing. The event will gather international players such as Google, Microsoft, Accenture, IBM, Intel, McKinsey, ZTE, Telefónica, Bentley Systems and BMW.
As well as an annual event, PUZZLE X™ is a global deep tech hub that accelerates the development of frontier technology and materials for the future 365 days a year. The initiative promotes the creation and incubation of scientific start-ups based on frontier materials in order to bring disruptive solutions to the marketplace and help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The initiative follows the “tech transfer venture building” method of The Collider.