Tufts develop 3D metamaterials with optical properties

The geometry of a moth's eye provides inspiration for a 3D printed antenna that absorbs specific microwave frequencies from any direction. Credit: Hojat Nejad

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties. The fabrication methods developed by the researchers demonstrate the potential, both present and future, of 3D printing to expand the range of geometric designs and material composites that lead to devices with novel optical properties.

Metamaterials extend the capabilities of conventional materials in devices by making use of geometric features arranged in repeating patterns at scales smaller than the wavelengths of energy being detected or influenced. New developments in 3D printing technology are making it possible to create many more shapes and patterns of metamaterials and at ever smaller scales. In the study, researchers at the Nano Lab at Tufts describe a hybrid fabrication approach using 3D printing, metal coating, and etching to create metamaterials with complex geometries and novel functionalities for wavelengths in the microwave range.

Other devices developed by the authors include parabolic reflectors that selectively absorb and transmit certain frequencies. Such concepts could simplify optical devices by combining the functions of reflection and filtering into one unit.