3-D printers open new design space for wireless devices

Researchers at Duke University have 3-D printed potent electromagnetic metamaterials, using an electrically conductive material compatible with a standard 3-D printer.

The demonstration could revolutionize the rapid design and prototyping of radio frequency applications such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, wireless sensing and communications devices.

Metamaterials are synthetic materials composed of many individual, engineered devices called cells that together produce properties not found in nature. As an electromagnetic wave moves through the metamaterial, each engineered cell manipulates the wave in a specific way to dictate how the wave behaves as a whole.

Metamaterials can be tailored to have unnatural properties such as bending light backwards, focusing electromagnetic waves onto multiple areas and perfectly absorbing specific wavelengths of light. But previous efforts have been constrained to 2-D circuit boards, limiting their effectiveness and abilities and making their fabrication difficult.

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