Intelligent AI-Empowered Metasurface Could Revolutionize Our Lives

The intelligent metasurface, AI-powered man-made material, is an intelligent platform that enables various functions such as data mining, communication, energy harvesting and sensing by processing illuminated information-carrying waves directly on the physical plane. Photo credits: Lianlin Li, Hanting Zhao, Che Liu, Long Li, and Tie Jun Cui

The manipulation of electromagnetic waves and information has become an important part of our everyday lives. Intelligent metasurfaces have emerged as intelligent platforms for automating the control of wave information-matter interactions without manual intervention. They have evolved from engineered composites, including metamaterials and metasurfaces. As a society, we have seen significant advances in the development of metamaterials and metasurfaces of various shapes and properties.

In an article published in the journal eLight On May 6, 2022, Professor Tie Jun Cui of Southeast University and Professor Lianlin Li of Peking University led a research team to study smart metasurfaces. “Intelligent Metasurfaces: Control, Communication and Computing” examined the development of intelligent metasurfaces with an eye to the future.

This field has refreshed human insights into many fundamental laws. You have unlocked many novel devices and systems such as stealth, tunneling and holograms. Traditional purely structural or passive metasurfaces have evolved into intelligent metasurfaces through the integration of algorithms and nonlinear materials (or active devices).

Intelligent metasurfaces have three crucial properties: digitization, programmability and intelligence. They provide an important way to control the interactions without human intervention. Digitization allows the metasurface to encode, decode, and store digital information. Programmability means that the meta surface can implement different functions with one physical unit. Intelligence indicates that the intelligent metasurface can make decisions, program itself, and perform sequential tasks without human oversight.

Intelligence is at the core, and algorithms can fill that role well. Artificial intelligence (AI) has developed rapidly, especially in the fields of data mining and knowledge discovery. Deep learning has proven extremely useful in almost every area of ​​science and technology. Deep learning has had a significant positive impact on the metamaterials and metasurfaces space. It will undoubtedly produce broad and active research directions.

Assessing the future of intelligent metasurfaces, the wireless signals already existing in our lives could be crucial for further development of the field. Smart metasurfaces could benefit from the development of 6G wireless communication, green IoT and digital twin.

We can imagine intelligent metasurfaces being able to learn, make decisions, program themselves, and continuously learn throughout their “lifetime”. The intelligent metasurface is an emerging research direction involving various disciplines. There are many open questions that need to be carefully addressed in the future.

Reference: “Intelligent Metasurfaces: Control, Communication, and Data Processing” by Lianlin Li, Hanting Zhao, Che Liu, Long Li, and Tie Jun Cui, May 6, 2022, eLight.
DOI: 10.1186/s43593-022-00013-3

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