Meta-materials are artificial materials that have properties unavailable from single material classes or composites and have been demonstrated in the lab to show exciting phenomena such as beam bending, cloaking and even invisibility, with the potential for applications in communications, energy transfer, sensors and security. The novel properties of the meta-materials arise from their unusual interactions with electromagnetic radiation, such as microwaves, which is produced by graded, anisotropic and/or periodic arrangements of materials at sub-wavelength scale. There is a need and exciting opportunity to develop new processing approaches to fabricate practical meta-materials for engineering applications. Because microwaves have wavelengths of millimetres or centimetres additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, techniques are idellay suited to build these complex materials and devices.
This project focuses on new processing approaches to build active meta-materials with graded dielectric and magnetic properties using 3D printing. An active meta-material is one that can be switched or controlled using an external stimulus such as electricity, magnetism, light, etc, and are at the early stages of development. The project will investigate a number of active meta-material ideas using our in-house 3D printing facility to produce functioning demonstrators for measurement. The research will involve interaction with designers using simulations to design devices, and characterising the microstructure (especially using X-ray tomography) and performance of the materials and devices you have developed. The project will also involve developing novel implementations of the additive manufacture process itself in order to allow 3D active devices to be fabricated.