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Affordable metamaterial for surface-enhanced infrared absorption

16 August 2021 | News
by Ian Michael
A metamaterial is a synthetic material that is engineered to have a property that is not found in naturally occurring materials. The special material is normally made of microscopic-sized assemblies of multiple materials including metals and plastics arranged in repeating patterns. It is used to manipulate electromagnetic waves by blocking, absorbing, strengthening or bending waves.

In the study, the research team, led by Professor Jongwon Lee in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UNIST and Dr Joo-Yun Jung from the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KMMM), developed a highly effective metamaterial that can be easily mass-produced for a low price. It was created using crisscross layers of nanoantennae in a metal–insulator–metal configuration to have vertical nano-sized gaps of a smaller size than the infrared wavelength. Each layer is 10 nm thick.

“The proposed metamaterial achieved a record-high difference of 36 % in our demonstration on a monolayer with a thickness of 2.8 nm. This is the best record achieved to date among monolayer detection experiments”, researcher Hwang In-yong from UNIST said. Conventional metamaterials require expensive high-resolution lithography machines to produce microstructures on the material’s surfaces, but KIMM’s production stages involve affordable nanoimprint lithography and dry-etching processes to cut manufacturing costs.

Read the original journal paper in Small Methods

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