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FP6

METAMORPHOSE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 500252
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Finland

Manipulating light with ‘metamaterials’

A revolutionary new class of materials, metamaterials, is promising to change the face of electronic instrumentation. EU-funded researchers have placed Europe at the research frontier with the establishment of a Virtual Institute (VI) on the topic.
Manipulating light with ‘metamaterials’
Metamaterials are man-made composites not found in nature. Made up of arrays of very small metallic resonant elements, they enable manipulation of electromagnetic (EM) fields and waves at sub-wavelength scales.

The EM spectrum includes all types of (light) radiation in the form of streams of photons classified according to their wavelengths. It consists of radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, microwaves and gamma rays. In fact, visible light makes up only a small part of the EM spectrum.

The ability to manipulate EM waves means the ability to manipulate light of all wavelengths, opening the door to a variety of new functionalities not previously possible. In fact, one of the most intriguing implications is the ability to make objects invisible.

European researchers seeking to make Europe an internationally acclaimed centre for research in this exciting new field of discovery initiated the ‘Metamaterials organized for radio, millimetre wave and photonic superlative engineering’ (Metamorphose) project.

The scientific objective was to develop new types of metamaterials and their large-scale assembly processes leading to enhancements in smart, multifunctional antennae and apertures, high-resolution imaging systems and even ‘smart skin’. The latter is packed with micro-circuitry yet sticks on the human body in a flexible way, bending without damaging the components. It is likely to be used initially in biomedicine, enabling measurement of activity in the human heart, muscles or even brain.

In order to accomplish scientific goals, the consortium established a VI (http://www.metamorphose-vi.org/) to plan and organise joint research projects and enhance dissemination of knowledge. The VI includes a doctoral programme with web-based learning. In addition, it houses a job site and organises an annual international conference on metamaterials in microwaves and optics. Publications of news related to the field are constantly updated.

The VI combines expertise from material physics, electromagnetics, optics, radio engineering and electronics. With its establishment, the Metamorphose project promises to place Europe at the forefront of the exciting new multidisciplinary field of metamaterials.

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