Soft 3D acoustic metamaterial with negative index

Nat Mater. 2015 Apr;14(4):384-8. doi: 10.1038/nmat4164. Epub 2014 Dec 15.


Many efforts have been devoted to the design and achievement of negative-refractive-index metamaterials since the 2000s. One of the challenges at present is to extend that field beyond electromagnetism by realizing three-dimensional (3D) media with negative acoustic indices. We report a new class of locally resonant ultrasonic metafluids consisting of a concentrated suspension of macroporous microbeads engineered using soft-matter techniques. The propagation of Gaussian pulses within these random distributions of 'ultra-slow' Mie resonators is investigated through in situ ultrasonic experiments. The real part of the acoustic index is shown to be negative (up to almost - 1) over broad frequency bandwidths, depending on the volume fraction of the microbeads as predicted by multiple-scattering calculations. These soft 3D acoustic metamaterials open the way for key applications such as sub-wavelength imaging and transformation acoustics, which require the production of acoustic devices with negative or zero-valued indices.