Future Materials – The Meta-skin From Liquid Metal

Martin Smith

Future Materials – We can now have ‘meta-skin’ made from liquid metal.

A team of experts from Iowa State University published a research paper detailing the use of a new flexible metamaterial, able to cloak objects from the radar detection.

Metamaterials are man-made matters with properties not found in nature.

The metamaterials are structures with negative refractive index.

It is a property that never occurs in nature.

In nature, materials have a positive refractive index.

Future Materials From Liquid Metal Alloy

The team calls the new metamaterial “the meta-skin” as it consists of a matrix of liquid metal resonators, embedded in layers of silicone rubber.

The resonators are small rings with a thickness of half a millimeter and an outer radius of 2.5 millimeters.

Between them, there is a 1-millimeter gap that creates a small, curved segment of liquid wire.

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The gaps create electric capacitors, and the rings create magnetic inductors.

Put together they create a resonator that can trap and suppress radar waves at a certain frequency.

By stretching the meta-skin, the size of the liquid metal rings changes thus the frequency of the waves the device can suppress changes too.

The liquid metal alloy is a mix of indium and gallium that the scientists decided to call Galinstan.

The metal alloy is liquid at the room temperature just like the mercury, but it is not toxic.

The Galinstan-made resonators work by absorbing the radar waves within specific frequencies and not reflecting them back to the source.

By embedding the resonators in a flexible material, the team has created a new type of anti-radar fabric that can coat any object.

You can use it to cover a car, a plane or even a human body, just like a “Meta-skin.”

Or, a new type of fabric for the fashion industry.

Future Materials Used To Make Metafabrics

The polymer meta-skin does not absorb all radar waves, but only about 75% of radar waves from 8-10 GHz were absorbed by the “metafabric” used to cover the object used in the experiment.
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The flexibility of the resonators lets the experts change their shapes in order to absorb different frequencies.

Through spacing and stretching the team was able to tune the resonance frequency up to 9.15-12.38 GHz.

However, the team from Iowa State University does not want to stop here with the research.

The lead authors of the project are Jiming Song, professor and Liang Dong, associate professor, both from the dept. of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State University.
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Professor Dong has a background in nano and micro-scale devices and also working with polymers and liquids.

His colleague, Professor Song is an expert in new applications for the electromagnetic waves.

“The long-term goal of the project is to shrink the size of these devices. Then, we can work with higher-frequency electromagnetic waves such as infrared or visible light,” said professor Liang Dong.

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