Flexible and wearable metamaterials set a new frontier for many applications: from biomedical to safety and security
Electromagnetic waves have become part of our daily life: they are present in many fields, from telecommunications and internet access to biomedical and civil applications. In this context, the new frontier is represented by the Terahertz (THz) electromagnetic frequency band, located in the radiation spectrum between microwaves and infrared, therefore invisible to the human eye, but able to penetrate through several media, including biological tissues, without causing any damage.
Exploiting this band, also named T-ray, it is possible to implement extremely interesting applications, such as non-destructive detectors for non-invasive investigations in the fields of both medicine and security.
The research group of the Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications of Sapienza University of Rome, coordinated by Fabrizio Frezza, has first realized a device able to capture T-rays, with the collaboration of Italian CNR-IMM (Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems), and has subsequently verified its performances thanks to an innovative measurement system. The results of the study have been published in the Scientific Reports journal.
The researchers from Sapienza investigated the THz band to create a metamaterial, i.e. an artificially constructed material with particular, and absent in nature, electromagnetic properties, able to partially or totally absorb the electromagnetic radiation. The devised metamaterial will be flexible and wearable, characteristics which increase and optimize its applicability.
“Our biggest challenge – Fabrizio Frezza explains – has been to perform all measurements necessary to verify the performances of metamaterials in terms of their ability to catch and trap electromagnetic waves”.
To this aim, the team has devised, in collaboration with the CNR-ISC (Institute of Complex Systems) an innovative measurement setup, able to perform the device characterization with an accuracy never obtained before.
“Exploiting the possibilities provided by nanotechnology and the knowledge of metamaterial science – Frezza concludes – it is possible to revolutionize the scenarios in both the biomedical and the security fields: the T-rays are able to perceive each molecule and therefore they allow to detect tumoral cells and drugs quality, but also explosive devices and hidden weapons”.
Polarization-maintaining reflection-mode THz time-domain spectroscopy of a polyimide based ultra-thin narrow-band metamaterial absorber - Maria Denise Astorino, Renato Fastampa, Fabrizio Frezza, Luca Maiolo, Marco Marrani, Mauro Missori, Marco Muzi, Nicola Tedeschi & Andrea Veroli - Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 1985 (2018) - doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20429-7
Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications of Sapienza University of Rome, (DIET)
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