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January 20, 2011

Fractal “metasurface” metamaterial can transfer heat

Broadband infrared (IR) resonators have been developed by Fractal Antenna Systems Inc. Infrared development for efficient fractal “metasurface” heat transfer is likely to be 2 to 5 years away


By juxtaposing the fractal resonators very close to one another in a layered grid, they generate “surface” waves that can transfer IR energy. This fractal “metasurface” metamaterial thus can take heat away from one spot, and almost instantaneously, transfer the energy elsewhere.

Methods for transferring heat have been known for decades, and include: radiation, evaporation, phase transitions, conductivity, convective, thermoelectric, and more. The new “metasurface” heat transfer method is unique and different. Although related to conventional radiative transfer, it exploits coupling of surface waves and thus can be easily directed whereas radiative transfer is not. It is also totally passive, requiring no power.

The use of fractals is key to the practical realization of “metasurface” heat transfer, as their use allows the resonators to best couple to each other, over a broad infrared band, where most of the heat radiates. Other resonators used have not demonstrated this advantage. And in a unique advantage, broadband use of the fractals does not require that they be microns in size, thereby making it possible to fabricate them with a greater range of possible techniques.

“It is now possible, although not yet practical, to transfer heat in a way analogous to how we transfer electric current on a wire, without the delays inherent to heat capacities and cooling rates,” noted the firm’s CEO Nathan Cohen.

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