Metamaterial tiles increase the sensitivity of large telescopes

The Simons Observatory is a center dedicated to the study of changes in the cosmic microwave

background - electromagnetic radiation remainingfrom the early stage of the universe. These measurements will help you better understand how the universe came into being, what it is made of and how it evolved into what it is today.

Simons Observatory telescopes willuse a new supersensitive millimeter camera to measure the big bang afterglow. We have developed a new, inexpensive tile that will be used in the chamber to absorb environmental emissions that can distort the measured signals.

Zhilei Xu, lead author and fellow at the University of Pennsylvania

The researchers have shown that the microwave tiles they have developed from metamaterials absorb more than 99% of the millimeter wave radiation and retain their properties at extremely low temperatures.

Tiles can be made by injection molding, and the materials from which they are made are inexpensive and economically available.

Ground-based millimeter telescopes usereceivers, they are cooled to cryogenic temperatures to reduce noise and increase sensitivity. Receiver technology has advanced so much that any amount of stray light can degrade the image while reducing the detector's sensitivity.

However, the development of a material capable of suppressingstray light, when operating at such extremely low temperatures, is quite a challenge. Previous attempts have resulted in materials either not being efficiently cooled to cryogenic temperatures or failing to achieve the required combination of low reflectance and high absorption.

To overcome these difficulties, researchersturned to metamaterials, since they can be designed in such a way as to obtain properties not found in nature. After sophisticated electromagnetic simulation studies, scientists have developed metamaterials based on a material that combines particles of carbon and plastic.

Making sure the tiles are made of new metamaterialcan withstand thermal cycles from room temperature to cryogenic, the researchers tested how they would cool down to -272 ° C and then measured their optical performance.

Tests have shown that the metamaterial has excellent reflection properties with low scattering and absorbs almost all incoming photons.

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