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Convergence of Metamaterials and Quantum Materials at Boston University’s Materials Day Workshop

By: , Posted on: October 11, 2017

Xin Zhang Group. Boston University.

One of the most exciting aspects of materials science research is the ability to enable future technologies previously thought impossible. At the Boston University (BU) Materials Workshop, leading experts discussed cutting edge materials science and engineering research with the potential to enable the future of computing

I was very lucky to attend the workshop which took place in BU’s stunning Photonics Center and chaired by BU’s own Dr. Xin Zhang, an expert on Micro/nanoelectromechanical systems. The guiding theme of the workshop was the topic “Integrating Metamaterials with Quantum Materials”.

Metamaterials are engineered materials with properties not found in nature and quantum materials are materials that present strong electronic correlations or systems with topological orders. The convergence of these two emerging areas have the potential to circumvent current technological and materials limitations and lead to the future of computing.

Pioneers and leading experts in the field gave talks on the opportunities and challenges of this innovative area of research.

The backgrounds of the speakers were diverse from mechanical engineering, to materials science and physics. All researchers are working to discover, understand, and manufacture these intriguing materials. Dr. Zhang said “Metamaterials blurs the line between materials and devices. It’s a useful tool box for engineering and science.”

During Dr. Xiaoyu Rayne Zheng’s talk on Printing with Light: 3D Architected Metamaterials, he explained just why this area is so exciting. Paraphrasing his presentation—“Any materials that you design are bound by the laws of nature. They have to respond to physical laws of nature in a predictable way. For example, a material that is light must be weak and a material that is heavy must be strong. What if we could break these laws? What if we could create a material that is light, but strong?”

Dr. David Smith from Duke University discussed devices currently available on the market that have been enabled by metamaterials such as Metamaterial Holographic Antennas developed by Intellectual Ventures/Kymeta Corp. He also discussed a project in early stages that he is working on with Homeland Security, a metasurface imager. The imager attempts to address the need to capture an image in real time, be cheaper than the current technologies available, and be able to incorporate advanced computational techniques to identify threats of people going through airport security.

Many of the talks, including Dr. Xin Zhang and Dr. Seth Bank’s presentations described some of the challenges in developing and working with these materials. Currently, the methods used to create these materials and fabricate them into devices are complex, costly and not scalable—all crucial barriers to be overcome in order to develop commercially viable technologies.

It’s clear to me that the convergence of metamaterials and quantum materials present a lot of intriguing possibilities and I can’t wait to see what future technologies they enable!

If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend checking out:

  1. Fundamentals and Applications of Nanophotonics Edited by Joseph H. Haus
  2. Quantum information Processing with Diamond Edited by Steven Prawer and Igor Aharnovich
  3. Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene for Photonic Applications Edited by Shinji Yamashita, Yahachi Saito, Jong Hyun Choi
  4. Smart Sensors and MEMS Edited by S. Nihtianov and A. Luque
  5. Materials Today article “Novel 3D Printing process goes from nanoscale to macroscale”

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Materials Science

The highly interdisciplinary field of materials science examines elements of applied physics and chemistry, as well as chemical, mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering. Nanoscience and nanotechnology in particular have yielded major innovations in this area, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. Elsevier’s authoritative content in this area ranges from undergraduate textbooks to multi-volume reference works investigating the relationships between the structure of materials and their properties. Our journals (including Materials Today), books, and eBooks help researchers stay abreast of developments in this swiftly advancing field, coving major sub-disciplines like energy and power; metals and alloys; ceramics; composite materials; polymer science and biomaterials; interdisciplinary materials science; and structural materials.