Synthesizing 3D Metamaterials (SYMETA)

Sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), SYMETA is a large multidisciplinary project encompassing seven research groups across five universities.

Our aim

The aim of this project is to improve microwave product design through the synthesis of 3D metamaterials for radio frequency, microwave and THz applications. The collective aim is to exploit additive manufacturing processes with novel material formulations to create metamaterial based componentry for microwave communications.

This research has the potential to allow engineers greater design freedom when they approach microwave product design through the deployment of novel materials and their manufacturing processes. The benefits of this project will impact the Internet of Things, 5G and Defence and Space communications, although the potential will be greater in future once 3D printing technology has matured further.

In addition to antenna and radiofrequency design, the team of approximately 30 people includes the Additive Manufacturing Group and the Materials Department at Loughborough University. This expertise is complemented by researchers in Materials (Sheffield), Metamaterial Physics (Exeter), Applied Metamaterials and Microwave Engineering (Oxford) and Computational Electromagnetics at (QMUL).

Our research

Utilising facilities within the Wolfson School or Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering has been critical to this project. These include commercial electromagnetic software, various commercial and in-house dielectric measurement facilities, a suite of 3D-printers, vector network analysers and our anechoic chambers (including our new state-of-the-art £400k near field chamber); for characterising antenna performance.

Our outcomes

Although not completed yet, individual research groups have delivered a range of novel work including new low-loss ceramics that can be sintered at low temperatures; 3D-printable multi-material processes and appropriate materials; concepts such as 3D-printed graded index lenses and metamaterial resonators. The final, most exciting stage of the project will bring together unique discoveries from each research group to realise advanced capability.

Project lead: Professor Will Whittow