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NIST tunes 'metasurface' with fluid in new concept for sensing and chemistry
Date:6/8/2011

Like an opera singer hitting a note that shatters a glass, a signal at a particular resonant frequency can concentrate energy in a material and change its properties. And as with 18th century "musical glasses," adding a little water can change the critical pitch. Echoing both phenomena, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a unique fluid-tuned "metasurface," a concept that may be useful in biomedical sensors and microwave-assisted chemistry.

A metasurface or metafilm is a two-dimensional version of a metamaterial, popularized recently in technologies with seemingly unnatural properties, such as the illusion of invisibility. Metamaterials have special properties not found in nature, often because of a novel structure. NIST's metasurface is a small piece of composite circuit board studded with metal patches in specific geometries and arrangements to create a structure that can reflect, store, or transmit energy (that is, allow it to pass right through).

As described in a new paper,* NIST researchers used purified water to tune the metasurface's resonant frequencythe specific microwave frequency at which the surface can accumulate or store energy. They also calculated that the metasurface could concentrate electric field strength in localized areas, and thus might be used to heat fluids and promote microwave-assisted chemical or biochemical reactions.

The metasurface's behavior is due to interactions of 18 square copper frame structures, each 10 millimeters on a side (see photo). Computer simulations help design the copper squares to respond to a specific frequency. They are easily excited by microwaves, and each one can store energy in a T-shaped gap in its midsection when the metasurface is in a resonant condition. Fluid channels made of plastic tubing are bonded across the gaps. The sample is placed in a waveguide, which directs the microwaves and acts like a kaleidoscope, with
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Contact: Laura Ost
laura.ost@nist.gov
303-497-4880
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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NIST tunes 'metasurface' with fluid in new concept for sensing and chemistry
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