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Next Wave of Metamaterials Hopes to Fuel the Revolution

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Science  08 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5962, pp. 138-139
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5962.138

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Metamaterials, composites engineered to manipulate electromagnetic waves in new ways, are being used to design everything from invisibility cloaks and lenses that focus light to a point smaller than the diffraction limit—the tightest focus possible by conventional optics—to materials that mimic the light-trapping ability of black holes. But the field faces sizable challenges as well. Despite researchers' successes in manipulating electromagnetic waves, the fact that most metamaterials are strong light absorbers and ultrathin has hampered their real-world uses. The challenge, proponents say, is to come up with better ways to create complex, three-dimensional patterns in thick materials and limit their tendency to absorb light.