The New Buzz in Physics: Metamaterials



Physicists are excited about metamaterials that can have some amazing properties. There was a conference held where a lot of different materials were shown, this included ceramics with springy properties and programmable rubber sponges. These kinds of materials can be used in a spacecraft or for show soles. The idea is now evolving into different areas.

The original idea was about electromagnetism but that it went into areas like mechanics and thermodynamics. The concept of metamaterial is being used in weird ways and without consistency but this is the starting phase where research is being carried out to understand the nature of this exciting new venture.

There is also a cloaking material but its objective is not to make things invisible but to hide them from forces, this metamaterial can make an object unfeelable if its placed underneath. This kind of metamaterial can be used in cargo to reduce the chances of damage.

The next metamaterial is a programmable and is surprisingly low-tech. The slab of rubber is made with holes which reminds many of a slab of cheese. Its like a sponge that can be used as a shoe sole which will automatically adjust according to the pressure.

The rubber slab utilizes the concept of “negative stiffness” if there is a lot of pressure, the material becomes soft. The rubber slab also has another feature, the slab can absorb energy.

This kind of metamaterial can be used on a car bumper, a softer bumper can reduce the chances of damage. The best part is that the bumper would be stiff when the user would drive his car on the highway.