At the new Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics at the University of Buffalo, engineers are developing an advanced microchip made of alternate ultra-thin films of metal and semiconductors and/or insulators. They call these “hyperbolic metamaterial waveguides” because they halt and ultimately absorb each frequency of light at slightly different places in a vertical direction to “catch a rainbow” of wavelengths.
This could lead to advancements in an array of fields: electronics, solar panels and other energy-harvesting devices. Technology such as the Stealth bomber involves materials that make planes, ships and other devices invisible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection methods. Because the on-chip absorber has the potential to absorb different wavelengths at a multitude of frequencies, it could be useful as a stealth coating material.
So forget about leprechauns, today’s engineers are catching rainbows!