New metamaterial merges magnetic reminiscence and bodily adjustments

Image of a polymer-based device with flexible parts.


For functions like robotics, there’s often a transparent division of labor between the processors that management the robotic’s physique and the actuators that truly management the bodily adjustments of that physique. However a brand new paper being launched immediately blurs the traces between the 2, utilizing a magnetic swap in a means that each shops a bit representing the {hardware}’s state and alters the bodily conformation of the {hardware}. In essence, it merges reminiscence and bodily adjustments.

This specific implementation does not appear to be particularly helpful—it is a lot too huge to be a sensible type of reminiscence, and the bodily adjustments are pretty restricted. However the idea is intriguing, and it is attainable that somebody more proficient at artistic considering can discover methods of modifying the idea to create a helpful machine.

A magnetic metamaterial?

A metamaterial is mostly outlined as a cloth that’s structured in order that it has properties that are not present in bulk mixes of its uncooked supplies. A broad studying of that definition, nevertheless, would imply {that a} automobile is a metamaterial, which makes the definition close to meaningless. The researchers behind the brand new machine, based mostly at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fedeŕale de Lausanne, declare their creation is a metamaterial, but it surely’s pretty massive (roughly a dice three centimeters on a aspect) and has numerous distinct components. I would are likely to name {that a} machine fairly than a cloth and can use that terminology right here.

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This tiny copy of Woman With a Pearl Earring is “painted” with gentle

An illustration of how millions of nanopillars were used to control both the color and intensity of incident light, projecting a faithful reproduction of Johannes Vermeer's <em>Girl With a Pearl Earring</em>.

Enlarge / An illustration of how tens of millions of nanopillars had been used to manage each the colour and depth of incident gentle, projecting a trustworthy copy of Johannes Vermeer’s Woman With a Pearl Earring. (credit score: T. Xu/Nanjing College)

Scientists have fabricated tiny “nanopillars” able to transmitting particular colours of sunshine, at particular intensities, which maintain promise for improved optical communication and anti-counterfeit measures for forex. For proof of idea, they determined to digitally reproduce Dutch grasp Johannes Vermeer’s well-known portray Woman With a Pearl Earring—simply painted in gentle as an alternative of pigment. They mentioned their work in a current paper printed within the journal Optica.

“The standard of the copy, capturing the refined shade gradations and shadow particulars, is just outstanding,” stated co-author Amit Agrawal, a researcher with the Nationwide Institute of Science and Know-how (NIST). “This work fairly elegantly bridges the fields of artwork and nanotechnology.”

Nature abounds with examples of structural shade. The brilliant colours in butterfly wings do not come from any pigment molecules however from how the wings are structured, for example. The scales of chitin (a polysaccharide frequent to bugs) are organized like roof tiles. Primarily, they kind a diffraction grating, besides photonic crystals solely produce sure colours, or wavelengths, of sunshine whereas a diffraction grating will produce all the spectrum, very like a prism 

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