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It’s important to distinguish between metamaterials and their properties. Metamaterials are indeed built from nature materials. However, they can have properties, such as negative refraction index, that do not exist in nature, and that certainly differ from the parent materials. metamaterials have unique properties because they interact with forces at the nanoscale in ways that we can only explain by using quantum mechanics. If we scaled those structures up to a meter or a kilometer, they would no longer exhibit the same properties.
We can use metamaterials with a negative index of refraction to control optical beams, or make a lens that can image small things, such as a virus, with super resolution. These devices can focus laser beams down to nanometer scale, making the interface with nanoscale electronics much easier. Bridging that size difference makes these devices very powerful. That is something really unique. In fact, we are using these materials to design microwave devices that can manipulate data in quantum networks in ways that will drastically improve efficiency.
It is a material that has properties that are the opposite of what you would expect from a conventional, or natural, right-handed material. So a left-handed negative refraction index material would bend light in the opposite direction of a conventional material. We really didn't know anything about negative index materials when we started doing these experiments. But negative refractive index materials have many other properties that interested physicists. For example, they also reverse Doppler shift and Cherenkov radiation. There are tons of possibilities.
originally posted by: lostbook
a reply to: wasaka
This is out of my realm of expertise but it sounds really cool.