ACM News 18/01/2013
Duke University researchers are using a new class of artificial materials, called metamaterials, to design a sensor that compresses images much more efficiently than existing technologies. Metamaterials have qualities that bend light, X-rays, and radio waves in unusual ways. The researchers say the scanning sensor captures both still and video images while simplifying compression by integrating it directly into the sensor array. The technology permits image compression to be performed directly by the sensor hardware, instead of by the specialized hardware and software in use today. Although metamaterials might offer high compression ratios, the real advantage is in the potential for reductions in size, says Duke’s John Hunt. For example, the most advanced planes and boats use a mechanically steered dish antenna for radar, which requires setting aside a large space to swivel the dish. “Our system could potentially replace that with a flat sheet wrapped onto the side of the fuselage,” Hunt says. Depending on the wavelength the metamaterials are focused on, they are made with either printed circuitboards or semiconductors. The sensor elements can be laid out in a linear array or as a three-dimensional matrix.