Materials Engineers Create Perfect Light “sponge”

Posted on June 3, 2008  Comments (1)

Materials engineers create perfect light “sponge”

The team designed and engineered a metamaterial that uses tiny geometric surface features to successfully capture the electric and magnetic properties of a microwave to the point of total absorption.

“Three things can happen to light when it hits a material,” says Boston College Physicist Willie J. Padilla. “It can be reflected, as in a mirror. It can be transmitted, as with window glass. Or it can be absorbed and turned into heat. This metamaterial has been engineered to ensure that all light is neither reflected nor transmitted, but is turned completely into heat and absorbed. It shows we can design a metamaterial so that at a specific frequency it can absorb all of the photons that fall onto its surface.”

The metamaterial is the first to demonstrate perfect absorption and unlike conventional absorbers it is constructed solely out of metallic elements, giving the material greater flexibility for applications related to the collection and detection of light, such as imaging, says Padilla, an assistant professor of physics.

Related: Perfect Metamaterial Absorber letter (in Physical Review Letters) – Light to Matter to LightDelaying the Flow of Light on a Silicon ChipParticles and Wavesother posts linking to open access papers

One Response to “Materials Engineers Create Perfect Light “sponge””

  1. Jack Stone
    June 4th, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

    That’s incredible. I’d love to see this material in action. I don’t know about this situation, but a lot of things like this I hear about that I think would be incredible to see are somehow impossible (at least at the moment) for a layman to really see anything interesting. For instance, a lot of times in cases like this the material will be microscopic and they’re sending a couple of photons at it. But who knows…maybe it’s a huge chunk of metal…wouldn’t it look like a black whole? That would be incredibly interesting to see!

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