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Metamaterials: how can the UK develop successful supply chains and deliver next generation products?

Posted on 04/11/2019

What can be done to support innovators on the journey to the commercial exploitation of Metamaterials in the UK.

Brian McCarthy from KTN’s Materials Team is exploring what more can be done to support innovators on the journey leading to the commercial exploitation of Metamaterials in the UK. Please fill out our survey on identifying interest in UK Metamaterials.

 

What are Metamaterials?

Metamaterials are artificially engineered materials with properties not available in natural systems such as negative permeability and permittivity, display anomalous behaviour, such as negative refraction, superlensing, backward wave propagation and reverse Doppler shifting.

 

How can they be used?

Imagine you are travelling on a long motorway journey and both you and the driver enjoy differing types of music. A music system with acoustic metamaterials could successfully direct classical music to you in your seat as the passenger and pop music to the driver – simultaneously.

There are many applications including energy harvesting, object cloaking, high data rate communications, sensors and detectors, imaging, anti-vibration, noise reduction, seismic protection and antennae — to name a few — that can be implemented using metamaterials technologies. Metamaterials can either be used to improve the performance of existing applications or in some cases to allow the design of radically new devices and structures. Hence the growth in the area of metamaterials is unsurprising, and the maturation of the technologies is leading to a range of market opportunities in a range of sectors including healthcare, IT, automotive, communications, aerospace and defence.

 

The Current UK Position:

The UK is well placed with respect to metamaterials R&D with major companies like BAe Systems, Thales and Leonardo supported by recently established companies such as Metaboards Limited, Metasonics Limited and Sonobex Limited.

Current funding for Metamaterials R&D highlights the very strong presence and recent and present contribution of EPSRC – part of UKRI – directed mainly to UK Universities such as Exeter, Imperial, Southampton, Sussex, etc.

Sonobex Limited have recently received Innovate UK Smart Grant funding – dealing with acoustic metamaterials. We now have a sizable skilled academic resource with world-leading expertise – and trained cohort of post-graduates now entering industry. Many of the current research activities are moving beyond TRL levels 3-4 and now ready for commercial involvement.

 

The Role of the KTN:

KTN has hosted a limited number of successful events/conferences/workshops focusing on Metamaterials and the UK. It has created a UK Metamaterials Leadership Group of leading industrialists and key academics.

A review of the KTN Metamaterials Innovation Landscape (Oct 2019) reveals some 380 organisations active or with metamaterial interests. We are keen to grow this community and to support commercial exploitation of extant and on-going research work.

We will be hosting our next Metamaterials Seminar at Materials Research Exchange 2020 (MRE2020) at BDC, London on the 19th – 20th February 2020.

The KTN Materials team work to help innovators to develop and commercialise their novel ideas. Please get in touch with Brian McCarthy if you are interested in supporting metamaterials activity in the UK or, if you have an idea or innovation you’re keen to commercialise – contact us.  It’s our job to connect people and opportunities to drive economic growth.

 

Please click here to fill out our survey on UK Metamaterials.

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