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Flexible and Wearable Metamaterials

Electromagnetic waves are fundamental to telecommunications and the Internet access, as well as a wide range of biomedical and civil applications. The new frontier for electromagnetic waves is the Terahertz (THz) frequency range, also known as T-Rays. T-Rays lies between microwaves and infrared waves. Thus, they are invisible to the human eye, but can cross a range of materials, including human tissues, without causing damage. Indeed, this feature means that they can be used for non-invasive analyses both in medicine and security applications.

A research group at the Sapienza Department of Information, Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering, coordinated by Fabrizio Frezza, in collaboration with the National Research Council (CNR) Institute for Micro-electronics and Micro-systems, has developed a device capable of detecting T-Rays and tested an innovative system for their measurement. The results of the research project have been published on Scientific Reports.

Sapienza researchers developed a metamaterial, an artificial material with peculiar electromagnetic properties that are not present in nature, which can partially or totally absorb THz electromagnetic radiation. Moreover, the metamaterial will be flexible and wearable, a characteristic that will further enhance application opportunities.

“Our challenge,” explains Fabrizio Frezza, “was to assess the performance of the metamaterial through the measurement of THz wave values trapped by the material.”

To perform these measurements, the team collaborated with the CNR Institute for Complex Systems, on the development of an innovative, high-precision measurement system

“Exploiting the opportunities provided by nanotechnology and the knowledge of metamaterial science,” Frezza concludes, “we can revolutionise biomedical and security applications. T-Rays can detect any type of molecule and reveal the existence of tumoral cells, the quality of pharmaceutical products and the presence of hidden explosives and weapons.”

The research group at the Department of Information, Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering includes: Maria Denise Astorino, Andrea Veroli, Marco Muzi, Nicola Tedeschi, and Coordinator Fabrizio Frezza. The measurement device was developed in collaboration with Luca Maiolo and Marco Marrani at the CNR Institute for Micro-electronics and Micro-systems, while the measurements were performed in collaboration with Mauro Missori (CNR Institute for Complex Systems) and Renato Fastampa at the Sapienza Department of Physics.