A collaboration between Boston College and Duke University has developed a
metamaterial that might be slightly more useful to scientists and engineers.
Their new metallic metamaterial absorbs light perfectly. The resonating
materials can absorb both the electrical and magnetic properties of
electromagnetic waves over a narrow frequency range, turning the light into
“Three things can happen to light when it hits a material. 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,” explains Boston College's Willie J. Padilla, a leading researcher in
optics and metamaterials.
As the material's properties make it easily scalable, though the absorption
range is narrow, it could be tuned to a vast portion of the electromagnetic
spectrum. Some of the possible uses for a material like this include light
detectors and electronic imaging applications.