With their new approach, the researchers are trying to create devices with smaller size that are reconfigurable and highly efficient.
“This could be a breakthrough in the high-power microwave world,” said Sabahattin Yurt, a graduate research assistant in the applied electromagnetics research group.
The project, called “Innovative use of Metamaterials in Confining, Controlling and Radiating Intense Microwave Pulses,” is a part of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program funded by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. It is a five-year, $7.5 million project that brings UNM into collaboration with four other universities from different disciplines including MIT, Louisiana State University, Ohio State University and UC Irvine.
Edl Schamiloglu, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNM, is the principal investigator of the MURI and has been coordinating and overseeing overall progress and interactions among the consortium members. Other UNM researchers involved in the project are Professors Christos Christodoulou and Mark Gilmore, along with research faculty Mikhail Fuks and Sarita Prasad.
“My consortium unites a diverse group of electrical engineers, physicists and mathematicians to exploit the novel properties of metamaterials — man-made materials that can exhibit properties that do not ordinarily appear in nature — to study brand new ways of generating electromagnetic energy,” Schamiloglu said.
The researchers are studying the interaction of electrons with novel dispersive structures made from metamaterials in order to develop new sources of coherent electromagnetic radiation, Yurt said.
“We are focusing on developing unique metamaterial slow-wave structures that our electron beams would propagate through in order to generate high-power microwaves,” he said.
The unique electromagnetic properties of metamaterials have a potential to open new possibilities in the design of innovative high-power microwave devices that the researchers are studying, he said.
“Since the 2000s, metamaterials have been widely used in microwave devices such as amplifiers, filters, phase shifters and power dividers, as well as in some other applications including antenna miniaturization, superlenses, photonic crystals and cloaking devices,” he said.
Metamaterial sources have been widely studied, and many configurations of traveling-wave tube and backward wave oscillator structures have been developed so far, he said.
The researchers have designed their own resonator machine that provides fast growth time — 100 to 200 times faster than a machine designed by MIT, Yurt said.
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“This structure provides us some other useful properties including non-bianisotropic behavior due to the configuration of rings, its good efficiency, as well as properties similar to more conventional metamaterial structures,” he said.
The researchers recently found that certain conventional short-wave structures exhibit behavior similar to metamaterial short-wave structures under some specific conditions: an unexpected result that could revolutionize how metamaterials are thought of, he said.
“UNM is making very important contributions in this nascent area of applied electromagnetics,” Schamiloglu said.
Sayyed Shah is the assistant news editor at Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mianfawadshah.