Project Summary

Metamaterials are artificial structures whose electromagnetic properties can be engineered to achieve extraordinary phenomena not observed in natural materials. Specifically, the electric permittivity and the magnetic permeability of a metamaterial can be properly tailored to achieve whatever refractive index and medium impedance that can be imagined. This opens the door for an almost unimaginable control of the waves, not achievable by use of conventional materials. The metamaterials field involves several scientific hot-topics (left-handed media, negative refraction, cloaking, super-lenses for subwavelength imaging) with a very active and relevant community in Spain. All these novel properties and phenomena arise from the interaction of waves with artificially structured meta-atoms whose periodicity is much smaller than the wavelength. One common feature to all these topics is the scalability: metamaterials are periodic media, so the frequencies at which they display interesting features range from microwaves, millimeter waves, terahertz, and up to the optical wavelengths. Even sound can be controlled by means of acoustic metamaterials, in which the bulk modulus and mass density can be tailored to achieve the properties requested.

The main scientific and technological aim of this project is to encompass the new knowledge generation and the focused application development around metamaterials concepts by means of outstanding and complementary technological capabilities (micro-machining and nano-fabrication). This will allow demonstration of scientific and technological challenges in the metamaterials arena for both electromagnetic (microwave, THz, and optical frequencies) and acoustic waves. Novel approaches to the design of super-lenses, super-prisms, cloaks, antennas, filters, etc., will be taken. Of course, a clear motivation is present in order to look for applications in wireless communications, medical imaging, sensing, security, aerospace and defense, etc. To this end, this Consolider program allows joining the complementary forces of the best Spanish teams in this field so that the research activity program will give rise to a significant step in the research quality and in the knowledge and technology transfer to the industry.

The different groups of the EMET team have shown to possess singular capabilities in the field of metamaterials so that the synergy resulting from a co-ordinated work can lead to a worldwide leadership in both fundamentals and applications of metamaterials, overcoming the main roadblocks that still exist in the metamaterials arena.

This project is clearly multidisciplinary, with participation of physicists, microwave engineers and electronic engineers with a long scientific and technological trajectory. These highly complementary capabilities will bring the consortium to an optimum position to generate new knowledge, gain further insight on the new physical phenomena involved –specifically in the hot-topics of cloaking and subwavelength imaging–, and stimulate technology transfer to industry. In fact some groups are driving metamaterials based technology transfer to the industry and two spin-offs are starting. Top level analysis and modeling, fabrication and measurement/characterization are going to be shared among the team partners, thus establishing an optimal cooperative environment. In this way, the project is also expected to set up a strong platform to launch international projects and creating a high-quality PhD education program focused on metamaterials with international collaboration.

The main scientific and technological aim of this project is encompassing the new knowledge generation and the focused application development around metamaterials concepts by means of outstanding and complementary technological capabilities (micro-machining and nano-fabrication). This will allow the demonstration of scientific and technological challenges in the metamaterials arena, as those described above, for both electromagnetic (radio, microwaves, THz, and optical frequencies) and acoustic waves.