A novel approach to control energy waves in 4D

A synthetic metamaterial to direct mechanical waves along a specific path.


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In recent years, scientists have explored a “fourth dimension” (4D), or synthetic dimension, as an extension of our current physical reality.

In a new study, scientists at the University of Missouri have successfully created a new synthetic metamaterial with 4D capabilities, including the ability to control energy waves on the surface of a solid material. Known as mechanical surface waves, these energy waves are necessary for how vibrations travel along the surface of solid materials.

The material has the potential to be scaled up for broader applications linked to civil engineering, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and national defense usage, even if the team’s discovery is currently just a building block for other scientists to adopt and change as needed.

This ground-breaking discovery, known as topological pumping, may one-day advance quantum mechanics and quantum computers by enabling the development of higher-dimension quantum-mechanical effects.

Scientists demonstrated this topological pumping with elastic surface waves by strategically patterning an elastic surface to create a synthetic dimension. They decorated the surface with arrays of resonating pillars connected by spatially slow-varying coupling bridges and support eigenmodes below the sound cone.

They established a connection between the collective dynamics of the pillars and that of electrons in a magnetic field by developing a tight-binding model and a WKB (Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin) analysis.

This enabled scientists to predict the topological pumping pattern, which they validated through numerical and experimental steering of waves from one edge to the other.

Scientists also observed the immune nature of the topologically pumped surface waves to disorder and defects.

Scientists noted, “In conclusion, we have evidenced the topological surface wave transport in modulated phononic crystals through edge-to-edge topological pumpings associated with the 2D quantum Hall effects by the physical rendering of synthetic spaces.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Shaoyun Wang, Zhou Hu, Qian Wu, Hui Chen et al. Smart patterning for topological pumping of elastic surface waves. Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adh4310


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