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Prototype material defies laws of motion


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The prototype metamaterial uses electrical signals transported by these black wires to control both the direction and intensity of energy waves passing through a solid material. Credit: University of Missouri

University of Missouri Engineer Develops New MetaMaterial Prototype

A new study from the University of Missouri has revealed a new metamaterial prototype developed by Guoliang Huang, a Huber and Helen Croft Chair in Engineering. Huang and his colleagues have been exploring unconventional properties of metamaterials for more than 10 years. Essentially, metamaterials are artificial structures that exhibit uncommon properties, not found in nature according to Newton’s laws.

Controlling Elastic Energy Waves for Larger Structures

Huang’s goal has been to help control the elastic energy waves which can pass through larger structures, e.g. an aircraft. He has sought an alternative to conventional methods, which are limited in size and weight. The resulting prototype uses electrical signals to control the direction and intensity of energy waves.

Potential Applications

The unique design has applications in both military and commercial industries. Control radar waves have potential use in directing them to scan specific areas for objects, while also reducing vibration caused by air turbulence of an aircraft while on flight. Huang stated that “this metamaterial has odd mass density, so the force and acceleration are not going in the same direction, thereby providing us with an unconventional way to customize the design of an object’s structural dynamics, or properties to challenge Newton’s second law.”

Real-Life Applications

The first physical realization of odd mass density metamaterials has the potential to benefit civil structures such as pipelines and bridges by using active transducers to monitor for potential damage that is difficult to spot with the human eye.

More information: Qian Wu et al, Active metamaterials for realizing odd mass density, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2209829120

Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


What is a metamaterial?

A metamaterial is an artificial material that exhibits properties not commonly found in nature.

What are the benefits of using the metamaterial developed by Guoliang Huang?

There are potential military and commercial applications for this metamaterial prototype. It can help direct radar waves to scan specific areas for objects and reduce vibration in aircraft caused by air turbulence during flight. Additionally, this metamaterial can be used to monitor the health of civil structures such as pipelines and bridges by acting as active transducers, identifying possible damage that is challenging to identify visually.

What is odd mass density, and why is it important?

Odd mass density is a mass that appears to be focused in the opposite direction of the acceleration applied to it. The resulting metamaterial has the potential to potentially customize the design of an object’s structural dynamics and properties to challenge Newton’s second law.


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