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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K003305/1
Title: Generalised Transformation Media
Principal Investigator: McCall, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2012 Ends: 28 February 2016 Value (£): 339,632
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Jul 2012 EPSRC Physical Sciences Materials - July Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form

Recently researchers have discovered how to manipulate both light and sound in a 'designer' fashion. This expertise has progressed to the extent that laboratory demonstrations of invisibility cloaks not only already exist, but are improving year on year. Since simple invisibility has almost become mundane for the follower of scientific developments, we have had to reinvent the very notion of what `invisible' means. So rather than making merely objects invisible, we have discovered how to manipulate light in such a way that the objects remain in plain sight whilst selected events involving them are hidden - a 'History Editor'. This means that in principle, things can occur without being detected or suspected, even if under the unwavering gaze of a surveillance camera.

The underlying mathematical idea that led us to these discoveries is that the coordinates used to describe how light travels through space and time are arbitrary. This means that no matter what procedure we choose to follow for recording coordinate times and coordinate locations, the processes that we are describing must look the same. Even if we decide to use curved, distorted, or otherwise transformed coordinates, any light we are describing must still travel in straight lines. However, if I instead insist that the new coordinates be straight, then to compensate, the light rays must appear to travel along curved paths. If we then decide on a useful set of transformed coordinates, perhaps ones defining an invisibility cloak, mathematics can tell us exactly how to design a material so that the light rays are actually curved in the same way. This idea is known as Transformation Optics, and it is one that is exciting researchers the world over. These scientists are now able to design and make a whole host of new optical devices such as 'carpet cloaks', concentrators, or even artificial black holes.

Although Transformation Optics is now quite developed, we want to develop a more general theory called Transformation Media. This will describe how the ideas from Transformation Optics can be made more general and independent of specific areas of physics, such as acoustics, heat diffusion, electromagnetics, and quantum mechanics. This new unified 'Transformation' design tool and mind set will enable a raft of possible applications, from simple but pervasive enhancements to existing device technology, to more novel devices of a type that may even once been thought impossible. These may include, but are not limited to, acoustic black holes and sonar history editing, heat cloaking for firefighters and quantum wave manipulation for nanotechnology.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk