Researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso have developed a way to control electromagnetic near-fields surrounding electronics.
September 19, 2013 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Near-fields are electromagnetic "clouds" that surround everything electric such as electronics and antennas. When the near-fields of different electronic devices overlap, the devices interact and create coupling or cross talk, an undesired interaction between the devices.
"If you have two devices that you want to keep isolated from each other, their near-fields cannot overlap," said Raymond Rumpf, Ph.D., director of the University's EM Lab. "If they do, the devices couple and interfere with one another – like when you're driving a car and hear someone else's radio station playing on your radio."
The team, led by Rumpf and Cesar R. Garcia, an "electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate, invented a way to stop the unwanted interaction by manipulating the near-fields into particular shapes using 3-D printed metamaterials – manmade materials engineered to have superior properties. The team's metamaterials are unique because they work over a very broad range of frequencies and do not contain any metals.
The researchers believe that the new technology will lead to more electronic functions being compacted into smaller spaces, like cell phones, since one of the greatest challenges right now is avoiding signal interaction when electronics are placed close to one another.
The team's findings were recently published in the journal Progress in Electromagnetics Research (PIER).
Others who assisted in the project were Harvey Tsang, Ph.D., a research associate in electrical and computer engineering; Julio Padilla, Ph.D., a research associate in the Center for Environmental Research Management; and Michael Irwin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemistry.