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New Material Focuses, Instead Of Spreading, Radio Waves

MIT student Isaac Ehrenberg has created a concave lens using 3D printing that does the opposite of what natural rules dictate.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on November 21, 2012.

Researchers at MIT have created a 3D metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision. Through “negative refraction”, the concave lens bends electromagnetic waves in exactly the opposite way from how a normal concave lens would work. Instead of spreading the radio waves, they are focused on a single point like a tight beam.

Isaac Ehrenberg, an MIT grad student in mechanical engineering, fabricated his design using 3D printing, by building a lens layer by intricate layer from a polymer solution. After washing away the residue with a high-pressure water jet, each layer was coated with a fine mist of copper to give the lens a conductive surface.

New Material Focuses, Instead Of Spreading, Radio Waves

Ehrenberg says the device, which weighs less than a pound, would be easy for others to replicate in order to investigate 3D metamaterial designs. It could be used to focus radio waves precisely on molecules to create high-resolution images and has potential applications in deep-space imaging.

MIT

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