Optical metamaterials will be in our pockets, kitchens, cars, and offices in the next three to five years. Experts in the field foresee this outcome. The doors are opening to some profitable new markets for the materials, thanks to increasing technological maturation and reducing production costs.
Optical metamaterials interact with photons by utilizing chemical compositions or surface characteristics that are smaller than particular wavelengths of light. Metamaterials have already made commercial breakthroughs, from damage-resistant antireflective optics to tunable flat lenses. They’re finding uses in smartphones, cameras, automobiles, and gaming consoles. Depth-sensing in mobile devices, driverless cars, and augmented and virtual reality headsets appear to be the most imminent consumer applications.
Materials informatics, engineering, materials science, and physics overlap in metamaterial science. Although microwave metamaterials have been enabling wireless technology for over a decade, the optical arena proves more difficult but possibly more lucrative for those who can overcome the technology’s early obstacles.