Scientists create electromagnetic ‘black hole’ out of metamaterials

A new, carefully synthesized material is a point of no return for certain kinds of light.

Light despite flinging itself full speed at the universe like a tramp, is very persnickety about what it will and won't be absorbed into. Io9 has already done posts about how x-rays refuse to have anything to do with lightweight atoms, and don't brake for anything smaller than calcium, therefore making them very helpful when we want to look at bones. They're less helpful when we want to look at anything else, tending to run down our DNA in their rush to find themselves some metal they can settle down with. I guess you can't really name something ‘X' and expect it to behave.

But even when presented with acceptable atoms, not all light is absorbed. There are other factors that influence absorption. One big deterrent is the direction of the motion of the wave. Certain directions would result in smaller percentages of light being absorbed. What can I say? Photons are fussy.

That is, until a metamaterial was engineered to be the Don Juan of the universe. Metamaterials sound like irritating jerks who tell us that we're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective, but they're actually just materials that are materials that are built with structures that allow them to do things that regular materials can't. One good example that has been covered by Io9 is certain metamaterials' ability to bend light so much that it's capable of construction that invisibility cloak you've been reading so much about.

Scientists create electromagnetic ‘black hole’ out of metamaterials

This metamaterial isn't interested in turning light's head. It's interested in capturing and keeping it. No matter what angle light hits the material at, this material will grab it and keep it. The particular material used here works best on microwave frequencies, but in theory, it could get to the point where one person is able to walk around while being invisible, and another person is able to be a sinkhole for all light, not emitting any kind of electromagnetic wave. Of course, the creators of this material believe it can be used for ‘harvesting electromagnetic waves' and emitting thermal energy, but I'm thinking the Goths will get to it first.

Via The Open Access Journal for Physics.