In many respects, metamaterials are supernatural. These manmade materials, with their intricately designed structures, bend electromagnetic waves in ways that are impossible for materials found in nature. Scientists are investigating metamaterials for their potential to engineer invisibility cloaks — materials that refract light to hide an object in plain sight — and “super lenses,” which focus light beyond the range of optical microscopes to image objects at nanoscale detail. Researchers at MIT have now fabricated a three-dimensional, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision. The concave lens exhibits a property called negative refraction, bending electromagnetic waves — in this case, radio waves — in exactly the opposite sense from which a normal concave lens would work.
For Isaac Ehrenberg, an MIT graduate student in mechanical engineering, the device evokes an image from the movie “Star Wars”: the Death Star, a space station that shoots laser beams from a concave dish, the lasers converging to a point to destroy nearby planets. While the researchers’ fabricated lens won’t be blasting any planetary bodies in the near future, Ehrenberg says there are other potential applications for the device, such as molecular and deep-space imaging. To continue reading the article, visit MITnews.