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Digital metamaterial bits for simpler optical elements
15 Dec | MRS BulletinFull Text External Link Indicator
In this Information Age, digital electronics have become a crucial part of our everyday lives. Binary, or Boolean, logic has become ubiquitous in a society so closely affi liated with personal
electronics. The deceptively simple nature of the mathematical structure that uses 1s and 0s has enabled applications across a range of varied scientific fields.

In the September 14 issue of Nature Materials (DOI: 10.1038/NMAT4082), researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have proposed new methods of producing optical system designs
using digital metamaterial “bits” and “bytes.” Using simulations constructed with the COMSOL Multiphysics software, the researchers simulated the effective permittivity of two-component structures they label as metamaterial bytes; these were generated in both two-dimensional (2D) rectangular and concentric core–shell configurations. Each byte consisted of two bits, here comprising Ag and SiO2. It was seen that by altering factors such as bit order,
relative bit size, and orientation of the incident wave’s electric-field polarization, significant changes in the effective permittivity of the byte could be achieved. Additionally, permittivity values could be produced anywhere between the values of the two bits or even outside that range. Thus, it was demonstrated that, given the right conditions, a wide range of effective permittivity values could be produced from just two materials. Furthermore, the electromagnetic wave scattering from the digital bytes was found to be comparable to analogous homogenized structures." Ian McDonald
DOE announces $60M for solar power research
15 Jan | MRS BullettinFull Text External Link Indicator
"Building on President Obama’s broad-based plan to cut carbon pollution and support clean energy innovation across the country, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced in October 2013 about $60 million to support innovative solar-energy research and development. As part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative, the purpose of these awards is to help lower the cost of solar electricity, advance
seamless grid integration, and support a growing US solar workforce."