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U.S. engineers at Duke University have developed a new type of metamaterial that allows them to control light in a similar way that we control electrical currents within electronic devices. Their experiments could eventually lead to the replacement of electrical components with those based on optical technologies.

The engineers at the Center for Metamaterials and Integrated Plasmonics (CMIP) at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) say that these light-based metamaterial devices could lead to a faster way to transmit information in the future.

A metamaterial is the general term any type of artificial material that has properties not found in nature. Specifically, these artificially structured materials are designed to manipulate and interact with electromagnetic waves.

Duke Univeristy defines metamaterials as: 'These exotic composite materials are not so much a single substance, but an entire structure that can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature. The structure used in these experiments resembles a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds.'

Duke, one of the top metamaterial research centers in the world, is currently working on metamaterials under the term 'Novel Electromagnetic Materials.' The work is being performed at the William Bevan Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering.

According to the Duke University article 'Manipulating Light At Will,' electrical engineers at the school have developed a metamaterial that ''¦ could lead to the replacement of electrical components with those based on optical technologies.'

The results of their activity with metamaterials were published in Physics Review Letters on August 1, 2011. It was authored by Alec Rose, Da Huang, and David R. Smith, all from Duke University.

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University