Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Making a Black Hole with Metamaterials

The materials might one day be used to make “optical black holes” in the lab.

Metamaterials interact with light in weird ways. They can bend it around an object as if the object weren’t there, or narrow the resolution of microscopes down to a few nanometers.

It could soon be possible to use metamaterials to study the laws of physics, too.

Last week, Xiang Zhang, professor of materials science at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leader in metamaterials research, published a paper in Nature Physics explaining the idea. He suggests that just as the movement of celestial bodies has provided important evidence for Einstein’s theory of relativity, so the movement of light through metamaterials that mimic curved space-time might be used to study the laws of physics.

However, unlike celestial bodies, metamaterials can be studied in controlled experiments. One design the researchers propose would act as an “optical black hole”–an object that has the same effect on light that a gravitational black hole has on matter.

Physicists have been working on ways to make objects analogous to black holes to study in the lab, and most of them require complex experimental setups. Zhang’s design, it seems, would not. Metamaterials that behave like black holes might find applications down the road in devices that slow and trap light.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI
Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI

The walls are closing in on Clearview AI

The controversial face recognition company was just fined $10 million for scraping UK faces from the web. That might not be the end of it.

spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E
spaceman on a horse generated by DALL-E

This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world

OpenAI’s latest picture-making AI is amazing—but raises questions about what we mean by intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.