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Metamaterials have been in the news lately--and not only in technical journals. That is because the attributes of metamaterials are seemingly magical. When arranged just so, these extremely small manmade elements can alter the character of electromagnetic radiation in ways that no other material--either natural or manmade--can.

One such metamaterial characteristic which the popular press invariably plays up is the comparison to the stealth capability demonstrated by Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. And yes, it has been shown that metamaterials can re-route light around objects, but the practical application of that attribute is many years hence, if it will ever come to pass. But much more significant, is the imminent transition of several metamaterial capabilities to the commercial world that will have meaningful and practical effects, to include less expensive satellite communications, thinner smartphones, ultrafast optical data processing, and much faster (and cheaper) internet connectivity on-board planes and from mobile phones.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research, while looking forward to the day when metamaterials may be employed to make objects less visible, can take solace in the results of AFOSR support for early metamaterial researchers that made much of the current success possible.

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