Attempting to achieve invisibility properties with superconducting materials

Researchers have produced a simulation that demonstrates a unique 2D superconducting material that could make light-bending devices cheaper and easier to produce.

A new study has been published in the De Gruyter journal, Nanophonics, by lead authors Huanyang Chen at Xiamen University, China, and Qiaoliang Bao. They suggest that the use of the superconducting material, Molybdenum Trioxide (α-MoO3) should be implemented in order to replace expensive and difficult to produce metamaterials in the emerging technology of novel optical devices. This could be the key to producing light-bending devices that are cheaper and simpler to produce.

Invisibility may sound like more of a fictional goal than one that can be achieved in reality; however, researchers are currently hard at work producing devices that can scatter and bend light in such a way that it produces the effect of invisibility.

Thus far, these devices have relied on metamaterials, which is a material that has been specially engineered to possess novel properties that are not currently found in naturally occurring substances or in the individual particles of that material. However, the study by Chen and co-authors suggests that the use of α-MoO3 to generate invisibility properties within these devices is a better alternative.

Replacing metamaterials with α-MoO3 superconducting materials

Possessing unique properties, this α-MoO3 material can provide an excellent platform for controlling energy flow. The researcher’s simulation results highlighted that when utilised in a cylindrical formation or applying it rolled up, α-MoO3 materials used to replace metamaterials results in the simplified invisibility concentrator to gain the effects of electromagnetic invisibility and energy concentration, that would be demonstrated by a near perfect-invisibility device.

As a result, the study shows that hyperbolic materials such as α-MoO3 and Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) could serve as a new basis for transformation optics, opening the possibility of photonic devices beyond invisibility concentrators, including improved infrared imaging and detection systems.

Transformation optics

Transformation optics have generated much interested within the physics sector over recent decades due to the discovery that the path that light takes through a continuous medium can be the same as its propagation through a curved space that has undergone a coordinate transformation.

As a result, the behaviour of light can be manipulated as it passes through a material, something that has led to the creation of a multitude of novel optical devices, such as a camouflage material that could cover an object and bend light around it making it almost disappear, as well as other optical illusion devices.

“It is the first time that 2D materials have been used for transformation optical devices,” explained Huanyang Chen. “Usually, we need metamaterials but this is much simpler.”

The first application for the results of this study might be a large size energy concentrator capable of improving such devices. “We are now performing experiments by rolling up the α-MoO3, the results of which we hope will appear very soon,” concluded Chen.

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