Artificial black holes made with metamaterials

Nov 16, 2010

While our direct knowledge of black holes in the universe is limited to what we can observe from thousands or millions of light years away, a team of Chinese physicists has proposed a simple way to design an artificial electromagnetic (EM) black hole in the laboratory.

In the , Huanyang Chen at Soochow University and colleagues have presented a design of an artificial EM black hole designed using five types of composite isotropic materials, layered so that their transverse magnetic modes capture EM waves to which the object is subjected. The artificial EM black hole does not let EM waves escape, analogous to a black hole trapping light. In this case, the trapped EM waves are in the microwave region of the spectrum.

The so-called metamaterials used in the experiment are artificially engineered materials designed to have unusual properties not seen in nature. have also been used in studies of invisibility cloaking and negative-refraction superlenses. The group suggests the same method might be adaptable to higher frequencies, even those of visible light.

"Development of artificial would enable us to measure how is absorbed when passing through them," says Chen. "They can also be applied to harvesting light in a solar-cell system."

Explore further: By measuring infrared emissivity, work is being done to improve the features of solar thermal collectors

More information: The article, "A simple design of an artificial electromagnetic black hole" by Wanli Lu, JunFeng Jin, Zhifang Lin, and Huanyang Chen appears in the Journal of Applied Physics. See:

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4 /5 (10 votes)

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5 / 5 (4) Nov 16, 2010
The headline is misleading.
5 / 5 (5) Nov 16, 2010
The headline is misleading.

Aren't most of them when it comes to science reporting?
4 / 5 (5) Nov 16, 2010
How much of an improvement is this new "simple design" over previous methods of doing the same thing? Is there anything interesting that has been learned or observed since they first became able to make these black hole analogs? How much easier will it be for researchers who want to work with these apparatuses to do so?

Inquiring minds wouldn't mind knowing.
not rated yet Nov 16, 2010
Amazing, since it says it's an EM black hole and that the EM waves don't get out, the energy must dissipate by magic.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2010
the energy must dissipate by magic
... or by heat. Yes heat is EM-mediated, but its ensemble characteristics are very different from the original energy input into the device.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2010
uh-oh, they're making the first stargate
not rated yet Nov 17, 2010
the energy must dissipate by magic
... or by heat. Yes heat is EM-mediated, but its ensemble characteristics are very different from the original energy input into the device.

I figured that much as I wanted to think it was magic but they didn't say that, it sounds so much more mysterious than something that converts EM to heat, soup in a microwave oven does that too.
not rated yet Nov 17, 2010
I thought this happened several months ago, I definitely remember reading about this before.
not rated yet Nov 17, 2010
soup in a microwave oven does that too
Well, one presumes that the black hole model in question is a bit more sophisticated. For instance, one would hope that it bends light around its "event horizon" just like a real black hole would. Maybe light can even orbit its "event horizon" in a semi-steady state. Or perhaps any light "falling into" it gets dramatically blue-shifted, whereas light emanating outward from just outside of its "event horizon", gets dramatically red-shifted. Or maybe any light that passes the "event horizon" has no chance of coming back out. Maybe it could even produce Hawking radiation in noticeable quantities, assuming its "event horizon" sports sufficient curvature, and is sufficiently sharply delineated in space. Stuff like that...
1 / 5 (4) Nov 17, 2010
Primair ledging blacker particles hole whiter premair, colors pro air art meta.
1 / 5 (4) Nov 17, 2010
Mean, when nobody can touch fiction then it is not to lose science.
1 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2010
Can we build a "EM capacitor" with this (by feeding the artificial back hole from EM field) ?
not rated yet Nov 21, 2010
It would be interesting if a device like this could store all EM energy until some threshold was reached. Then any stored energy could be released in a single event.