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Physicists have developed so-called metashells made of smart, adaptable metamaterials. In a recent study they show how hollow metamaterial shells can adapt to the characteristics of the materials they hold inside.


A chameleon can flexibly change its colour to match its surroundings. And a similar phenomenon can now be seen in a new class of smart materials called metamaterials. The trouble is that these metamaterials lack the ability to respond to nearby objects due to their physical characteristics. To remedy this shortcoming, Chinese physicists have developed so-called 'metashells': hollow shells made of metamaterials and capable of carrying materials in their core. The advantage is that their physical characteristics, such as permittivity -- the extent to which a material can store charge within an electrical field -- change with the electromagnetic properties of the material they contain. In a recent theoretical study published in EPJ B, Liujun Xu and Jiping Huang from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, describe how they have developed an entire class of these chameleon-like metashells.

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