• A photo of a testing laboratory for metamaterial in a facility in the U.S.

A photo of a testing laboratory for metamaterial in a facility in the U.S. (Photo : www.wantchinatimes.com)

China is spearheading the global trend in developing metamaterials which are expected to revolutionize technology, according to an article published by Technology News China.

The report said that the Chinese government has provided funds to explore and develop the technology, which included the 863 Program (State High-Tech Development Plan), the 973 Program (National Basic Research Program) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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China has made several metamaterial innovations hailed as breakthroughs, the report said. In 2009, Chinese physicists used metamaterials in creating an artificial electromagnetic black hole for the first time. The country also made advancements in stealth technology and made possible the ability to observe negative refraction with sound waves, the report added.

According to the article, the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) submitted the Terminology of Electromagnetic Metamaterials for approval last month, providing the first national guidelines for the application of metamaterials in the country.

The report said that the country also has some of the most prominent players in the field of metamaterials. Liu Ruopeng, a prodigy with a doctorate in electronic engineering from Duke University and a top-level 863 Program specialist in metamaterials, is currently president of the Kuang-Chi Institute of Advanced Technology based in Shenzhen.

According to reports, Kuang-Chi has more than 2,800 patent applications, 86 percent of them are related to metamaterials.

Kuang-Chi developed the electromagnetic metamaterial antennas, which is capable of launching energy into free space, a technology that can be applied in wireless and space communications such as GPS, satellites, space vehicle navigation and airplanes.

The report said that Kuang-Chi had already tested the technology in 22 provinces in China three years ago.

China also lead the advancements in the microstructure processing of metamaterials. Last year, a group led by professor Huang Xiaozhong from Central South University in Hunan Province used 3D printers to create an 18-millimeter piece of metamaterial with 100,000 physical units, which can be used in fast-printing of stealth space aircraft and its replacement parts in the future.

According to RnR Market Research estimates,the global market for metamaterials will grow at an annual growth rate of over 41 percent in the next 10 years, and will have a potential value of $643 million by 2025.

Applications in telecommunications are expected to dominate during this period, with sensing and optics seen as the next big markets.