Metamaterials to manipulate objects at a distance

Metamaterials to manipulate objects at a distance

Moving objects without touching them thanks to ultrasound and light is already a reality… but the objects in question are much smaller. A University of Minnesota invention makes it possible to manipulate very large objects remotely.

In the field of robotics or industrial assembly, contactless manipulation is a kind of holy grail: moving devices requires no power source. Currently, sound and light waves can manipulate objects, but they must be smaller than the wavelength of sound (millimeters) or light (nanometers).

Move large objects without touching them

That’s where a research team from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering comes in. Scientists have developed a method to move large objects using the principles of metamaterial physics. These synthetic composite materials have electromagnetic properties that interact with light or sound waves.

The principle is as follows: by tracing a path made of metamaterials on the surface of an object, sound can be used to move it in the desired direction without physically touching it. ” We have known for some time that waves, whether light or sound, can manipulate matter “recalls Ognjen Ilic, author of the study.

What makes our research different is that we can manipulate much larger objects if we transform their surface into a “meta-material” surface. “, he adds. The technology envisioned here not only moves an object forward, but also attracts it to a source. The probe is currently proof of concept. Researchers now want to test higher frequencies and different materials to see if they can manipulate different types of objects.

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