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Metamaterials

— Materials

Nanoscale lattice is world's smallest

Scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have created a tiny lattice they claim is the world's smallest. Formed with struts and braces measuring less than 10 micrometers in length and less than 200 nanometers in diameter, the 3D lattice has a total size of less than 10 micrometers, but boasts a higher specific strength than most solids.

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— Medical

MRIs could soon be quicker and safer

While MRI scans may not expose patients to the ionizing radiation found in X-rays, they still are potentially harmful. This is because the increased radiofrequency energy absorption associated with newer high-field and ultra-high-field MRI scanners can heat body tissue. Thanks to research being conducted at the Australian National University, however, that may soon no longer be an issue – additionally, scans could be quicker and produce higher-quality images.

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— Physics

New invisibility cloak hides tiny three-dimensional objects of any shape

Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a foldable, incredibly thin invisibility cloak that can wrap around microscopic objects of any shape and make them undetectable in the visible spectrum. In its current form, the technology could be useful in optical computing or in shrouding secret microelectronic components from prying eyes, but according to the researchers involved, it could also be scaled up in size with relative ease.

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— Science

Ultrathin metasurface lenses do things conventional optics can't

Once, the only way to manipulate light was with the use of a transparent glass or plastic lens whose shape and makeup determined such things as focus, magnification, and polarity. However, to incorporate all of these properties in the one optical system required a large and complex collection of multiple lenses to achieve. Now researchers working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a flat silicon metamaterial lens that manages all of these thing in a microminiaure device that electromagnetically controls the properties of any light passing it. Read More
— Electronics

Sensor detects sound direction and cuts background noise

Although the ability tends to wane as we get older, the human auditory system is pretty good at filtering out background noise and making a single voice able to be understood above the general hubbub of a crowded room. But electronic devices, such as smartphones, aren't quite as gifted, which is why getting Siri or Google Now to understand you in crowded environments can be an exercise in futility. But now researchers have developed a prototype sensor that’s not only able to figure out the direction of a particular sound, but can also extract it from background noise.

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— Physics

Hyperlens significantly boosts image resolution of microscopic objects

Using visible light magnified through a compound series of lenses to image small objects, standard optical microscopes have been with us for many centuries. Whilst continually being improved, the result of these many advances of optics and image-capturing techniques means that many high-end optical microscopes have now reached the limit of magnification possible as they push the resolution properties of light itself. In an attempt to resolve this issue, scientists at the University of Buffalo (UB) have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes.

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— Science

Metamaterials allow ultrasound to penetrate bone and metal

Score another point for metamaterials. Researchers at North Carolina State University have designed complementary metamaterials that will aid medical professionals and engineers in diagnosing problems under the skin. These metamaterials are structured to account for so-called "aberrating layers" that block or distort the acoustic waves used in ultrasounds, making it possible to now conduct ultrasounds of a person's head or an airplane's wing – among other things. Read More
— Science

New materials developed that are as light as aerogel, yet 10,000 times stronger

Imagine materials strong enough to use in building airplanes or motor cars, yet are literally lighter than air. Soon, that may not be so hard to do because a team of researchers from MIT and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed new ultra-lightweight materials that are as light as aerogel, but 10,000 times stiffer, and may one day revolutionize aerospace and automotive designs. Read More
— Electronics

BAE Systems develops a flat lens that acts like it's curved

Anyone who’s ever needed a pair of thick eyeglasses has a firm idea that lenses are the one thing where form follows function. However, BAE Systems and Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in London have put paid to that idea with a flat lens that works like a conventional curved lens, yet without any reduction in bandwidth performance. Using a combination of composite metamaterials and transformational optics for the first time, they have created a lens that's able to bend electromagnetic waves, yet isn't bound by its shape for its function. Read More
— Science

World's first 3D acoustic cloaking device created

Metamaterials are already being used to create invisibility cloaks and "temporal cloaks," but now engineers from Duke University have turned metamaterials to the task of creating a 3D acoustic cloak. In the same way that invisibility cloaks use metamaterials to reroute light around an object, the acoustic cloaking device interacts with sound waves to make it appear as if the device and anything hidden beneath it isn't there. Read More
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