In recent years, scientists, including Guoliang Huang from the University of Missouri, have been exploring a fascinating “fourth dimension” (4D), or synthetic dimension, as an extension of our physical reality. Huang and his team at the MU College of Engineering have achieved a significant milestone by creating a synthetic metamaterial with 4D capabilities. This innovative material allows them to control energy waves, specifically mechanical surface waves, on the surface of solid materials.
The study, titled “Smart patterning for topological pumping of elastic surface waves,” was published in Science Advances. While this discovery is currently a foundational step for other researchers to build upon, the potential applications of this material are vast. It could be scaled up for civil engineering projects, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and even national defense applications.
Conventional materials are confined to the three dimensions of an X, Y, and Z axis. However, with this breakthrough in the synthetic dimension, scientists can manipulate the path of energy waves, guiding them precisely from one corner of a material to another. This innovation, known as topological pumping, may pave the way for advancements in quantum mechanics and quantum computing, enabling the development of higher dimension quantum-mechanical effects.
Additionally, this material's applications extend to earthquake engineering. By covering a pillow-like structure with this synthetic metamaterial and placing it under a building's foundation, it has the potential to prevent structural collapse during an earthquake. As much as 90% of earthquake energy travels along the Earth's surface, making this technology highly promising for seismic protection.
The research builds upon previous work by Huang and his team, where they demonstrated how a passive metamaterial could control the path of sound waves as they propagate within a material. With this latest achievement, the possibilities for future scientific and engineering breakthroughs are boundless.
Source: University of Missouri