Scientists from BAE Systems and Queen Mary University of London have seemingly defied the laws of physics by creating a novel composite material which has been used to manufacture a new type of antenna lens.
This breakthrough could revolutionise the design of aircraft, ships, radios and satellite dishes – potentially any product which uses an antenna.
Using a concept known as transformation optics combined with this new artificially engineered composite material known as a metamaterial, the electromagnetic properties of a curved lens have been emulated in a flat panel whilst retaining the same broadband performance. The new composite metamaterials flat antenna lens could be embedded into the skin of an aircraft without compromising aerodynamic performance, representing a major leap forward from current airborne antennas.
BAE Systems is the first company to successfully create a functional composite metamaterial designed using transformational optics which allows a flat lens to perform like a traditional curved lens without any reduction in bandwidth performance. Transformation optics is a concept which allows for control of light or electromagnetic radiation in novel ways. Metamaterials can do things beyond the reach of natural materials and are of significant interest to the scientific community. Whilst traditional metamaterials only operate over narrow frequencies when used in antennas, the new composite material has a greatly extended bandwidth performance. When both transformational optics and the composite materials are applied to antenna design, they have the potential to greatly enhance performance and bandwidth without the need for large dished reflectors or curved lenses.
Dr Sajad Haq from BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre in Bristol said: “The technology developed could lead to us to think differently about aircraft design as well as lowering radar cross sections, provide weight savings or allow miniaturisation of integrated components. Traditional metamaterials suffer from limited bandwidth whereas the new composite metamaterial we have developed for this antenna does not. The project is a great example of academic and industrial collaboration, illustrating perfectly what can be achieved with the right partnerships and skill set.”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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