MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering and Boston University have fabricated and characterized the first large area metamaterial structures patterned on implantable, bio-compatible silk substrates.
The research, reported online July 21, 2010, in the journal Advanced Materials, provides a promising path towards the development of a new class of metamaterial-inspired implantable biosensors and biodetectors.
Metamaterials are artificial electromagnetic composites, typically made of highly conducting metals, whose structures respond to electromagnetic waves in ways that atoms in natural materials do not. The most futuristic metamaterials would absorb all light, to create heat to destroy cancerous tissue, or bend light completely around an object, rendering that object invisiblean imaginary delight for fans of science fiction or spy novels.
"However, the real power of metamaterials is the possibility of constructing materials with a user-designed electromagnetic response at a precisely controlled target frequency. This opens the door to novel electromagnetic behaviors such as negative refractive index, perfect lensing, perfect absorbers and invisibility cloaks," explains Tufts Professor of Biomedical Engineering Fiorenzo Omenetto, who led the research team. Omenetto also holds an appointment in the Department of Physics at Tufts School of Arts and Sciences.
The team focused on metamaterial silk composites that are resonant at the terahertz frequency. This is the frequency where many chemical and biological agents show unique "fingerprints," which could potentially be used for biosensing.
Small Antennas Act as One
The researchers sprayed gold-based metamaterial structures directly on pre-made silk films with micro-fabricated stencils using a shadow mask evaporation technique. Spraying the metamaterial onto the flexible silk films created a compos
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