by Liaskos C., Tsioliaridou A., Pitsillides A., Akyildiz, I. F., Kantartzis N., Lalas, A., Dimitropoulos, X., Ioannidis S., Kafesaki, M., Soukoulis, C. M.
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This work belongs to the Nanonetworking research track.

Design and Development of Software Defined Metamaterials for Nanonetworks [[[Liaskos2015design]]]

Abstract: This paper introduces a class of programmable metamaterials, whose electromagnetic properties can be controlled via software. These software defined metamaterials (SDMs) stem from utilizing metamaterials in combination with nanonetworks. Metamaterials are artificial structures with properties that may not be found in nature. Since their initial advent, they have inspired ground-breaking applications to a range of research topics, such as electromagnetic invisibility of objects (cloaking), radiation absorption, filtering of light and sound as well as efficient antennas for sensors and implantable communication devices in recent years. However, existing metamaterial structures are “rigid”, i.e. they cannot be restructured once constructed. This trait limits their fabrication to some well-equipped laboratories worldwide, slows down innovation, and, most importantly, restricts their applicability to static structures only. The proposed SDMs act as “plastic” (reconfigurable) metamaterials, whose attributes can be changed programmatically via a computer interface. This control is achieved by a network of nanomachines, incorporated into the structure of the metamaterial. The nanomachines may receive commands from the user and perform simple, yet geometrically-altering, actions on the metamaterial profile and tuning of its electromagnetic behavior. Architectural aspects, expected features and implementation issues are covered in this paper, while a suitable nanonetworking model is presented along with simulation results on its anticipated performance. The paper concludes by outlining the research challenges pertaining to the analysis, design, prototyping, manufacturing, and initial application scenarios of the proposed SDMs. 

In a nutshell

Metamaterials (as a sub-discipline of Physics), are artificial materials which exhibit unnatural electromagnetic properties. The comprise repeating patterns over a surface or within a volume. The form of this patterns specifies some electromagnetic property of the material as a whole. An example is given below:


Split ring resonators (SRR) and crosses (left inset) are common metamaterial patterns. The dimensions od the patterns can regulate, e.g, the diffraction angle of the metamaterial. Stacking properly tuned metamaterials has been shown to render an object invisible to elegromagnetic waves at a given frequency.

Key-idea: Use a set of nanonetwork-controled switches to draw patterns on a surface programmatically.

An example is shown below:


Futher interfacing with sensing equipment (internal or external to the material) can lead, e.g., to automatically adapting materials.


  • The combination of metamaterials and nanonetworks can enable the programmatic control over the electromagnetic behavior of matter.
  • Metamaterials are artificially designed materials, with unnatural, geometry-dependent electromagnetic properties.
  • A network of nanomachines receives external, programmatic commands and performs geometry-altering actions, yielding tunable or adaptive electromagnetic behavior. 


This work was partially supported by the EU FP7 OPTET project (Grant no. EU317631) and the GSRT in Greece with a Research Excellence grant.

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