'Metamaterials' used to look at effects of black holes, other celestial objects

Sep 10, 2009
This is the cover of Nature Physics' September 2009 issue. Credit: Image courtesy of Nature Physics

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dr. Dentcho Genov, an assistant professor of physics and electrical engineering at Louisiana Tech University and a Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) Institute fellow, is featured on the cover of the most recent issue of Nature Physics.

Genov's groundbreaking work titled, "Mimicking in ," links the newly emerging field of artificial optic materials with celestial mechanics in order to investigate celestial phenomenon in a controlled laboratory environment. Metamaterials are artificial structures that display properties beyond those available in naturally-occurring materials.

" is the leading physics magazine in the world and only features research that, according to their criteria, is of 'extreme importance to scientists in a specific field' and that has broad interest," says Genov.

"This recognition shows the importance placed by the international physics community on the research Dr. Genov brings to Louisiana Tech," says Dr. Lee Sawyer, professor and physics program chair in Louisiana Tech's College of Engineering and Science.

Genov along with researchers from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley collaborated on this article.

Using elements of Einstein's , this research allows scientists to observe more closely how light and matter behave around massive celestial objects such as "."

The effect on light due to curved space-times generated by complex gravitational fields can now be reproduced with precisely engineered artificial optical materials, referred to in the literature as "metamaterials."

"It may be possible, in the very near future for scientists to closely study the interaction of light with strange objects such as 'black holes' or to borrow from the stability of planetary motion to create new types of near-perfect optical traps that can effectively 'store' light," says Genov.

This featured research is also closely related to technology Genov and others helped develop for the "invisibility cloak", which involves metamaterials that can conceal objects from almost anything that travels as a wave, including light, sound and, at the subatomic level, matter itself.

"The future of metamaterials for both research and application is still uncharted territory," says Sawyer. "What Dr. Genov has shown us is only the first of a wave of novel uses of these materials in the study of fundamental physics questions."

The "invisibility cloak" was ranked #7 in both Time and Discover magazines' lists of the Top 100 Science Stories of 2008.

"This recognition confirms that the engineering and science faculty at Louisiana Tech are contributing significantly to relevant and vital science discoveries," says Dr. Stan Napper, dean of Louisiana Tech's College of Engineering and Science.

"Our students are directly benefiting from these outstanding researchers who are also outstanding educators."

Source: Louisiana Tech University

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User comments : 11

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Archivis
5 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2009
"The effect on light due to curved space-times generated by complex gravitational fields can now be reproduced with precisely engineered artificial optical materials"

Am I reading this right? Artificial gravity? Yes please!
ThomasS
1 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2009
We will never-ever have a invisibility cloak like you see in the movies.. people need to get over that.
Archivis
not rated yet Sep 10, 2009
Honestly, who cares about a cloaking device... Granted it would have all sorts of uses but imo artificial gravity would be a MUCH more practicle and useful thing. After all, it would solve a bunch of problems for space exploration alone.
defunctdiety
4 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2009
Am I reading this right? Artificial gravity? Yes please!

No, you're not reading it right... I don't think you probably even read it all.

They used materials (solids) to replicate the EFFECTS of blackholes on light, no artificial gravity, just materials that when light is transmitted through, can replicate extreme gravity.

They're shining a light into special glass which slows it.

amirite?
defunctdiety
not rated yet Sep 10, 2009
Harsh, Adriab, why don't you explain it to Archivis then, hmm?
Alexa
3 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2009
Modern optical cables are using spongy structures too, so that some phenomena, like formation of optical event horizons or Hawking radiation can be demonstrated by them, too.

http://www.scienc...868/1367

It shouldn't be very surprising, neuron fibers inside of human brain are using this "technology too" (endoplasmic reticulum) - but for sound waves, instead of electromagnetic ones. In certain (and not only one) sense neural network mimics metamaterial behavior of vacuum with respect to formation of solitons and stable particles. The main purpose of this structure is the formation of selfrepreducing solitons, which can simulate behavior of complex multidimensional phenomena, we are facing in real life.
Sparkygravity
5 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2009
If the article is read closely, these metamaterials aren't going to replicate black holes or produce artificial gravity, they only model these phenomena on a scale that can fit inside a laboratory.

The significance of this research, is that by mimicking a black hole the optical materials create a light trap. Which then has possible applications as a 'cloak'. So really the significance of the research is it's ability to trap particles and photons.

This would lead to interesting questions like:
Can they trap other atomic particles through the same method?
Can the materials be adapted to trap sound waves without destroying the wave?
How much light can the traps capture?
What's the potential storage capacity of light being trapped?
What frequencies of light can be trapped?
Can the traps be adapted to release the light? A bomb? A power-source?

So no artificial gravity or black holes... just a new method of particle entrapment, which could potentially be very important.
Alexa
3 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2009
Currently we can trap only light and sound waves (photons and fonons). Heavier particle would require metamaterial made of much more dense material, corresponding the density of atom nuclei.
Yes, these materials can be used for transformation optics and acoustic.
Optical trap formed by metamaterial doesn't accumulates light due the dispersion. Trapped light is wasted and it cannot be recycled.
Optical traps based on metamaterials works only for microwaves and infrared waves in quite narrow band of frequency.
JukriS
1 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2009
1. The substance does not alter to an energy. The substance itself is energy.

The substance / The energy alters all the time to a less dense substance / energy.

The substance / The energy alters to a less dense energy in a space that has always existed. The space does not increase! The space does not expand or curve!

The whole concept of expanding space has been pulled out of the hat, because people has believed that the pulling force does exist. There is no such force as pulling force!

The Quarks

The quarks are formed out of energy that alters all the time to a less dense energy. The quarks expand and radiate energy waves. These waves the expading qvarks push themselves away from each other.

The quarks absorb more energy from the particles that move through the quarks. When the expanding quarks push themselves away from each other the energy radiating from the quarks pass and pushing becomes weaker.

JukriS
1 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2009
2. The quarks continue to expand, at the same time they come closer to each other without actually moving towards each other and the pushing strenghens. An external pressure is directed towards the quarks because more energy from the other atomcores and from those particles that move in an area between the atomcores and radiate their energy towards the atomcores.

The pattern of an atom

The energy of the atomcore alters to a less dense energy. The atom core expands and radiates energywaves that have the nature of electron and
particule. Also the electrons and the particules alter to a less dense energy and radiate their energy as waves.

The atomcore absorbs as if it would fill up more energy towards itselef from those particules that pass the atomcores or through the core. So the
particules also alter to a less dense energy and radiate their energy. The particules also absorb energy towards themselves from the radiation of the other particules.

Adriab
5 / 5 (1) Sep 12, 2009
Harsh, Adriab, why don't you explain it to Archivis then, hmm?


What? this is my first comment to this article? Please don't tell me you confused me with Alexa or someone else.

I am entirely against personal attacks in discussion as they are unnecessary and usually detract from the attacker's position.

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