The intelligent meta-surface, an artificial material with AI, is an intelligent platform that allows various functions such as data retrieval, communication, energy collection and sensors through direct processing of illuminated waves carrying information on a physical level. Credit: Lianlin Li, Hanting Zhao, Che Liu, Long Li and Tie Jun Cui

Manipulating electromagnetic waves and information has become an important part of our daily 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 composite materials, including metamaterials and metasurfaces. As a society, we are seeing significant progress 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 Ti Jun Cui of Southeast University and Professor Lianlin Li of Peking University led a research team to review intelligent metasurfaces. “Smart Metasurfaces: Control, Communication and Computing” explores the development of smart metasurfaces with a view to the future.

This area has refreshed human insights into many fundamental laws. They have unlocked many new devices and systems, such as cover-ups, tunneling and holograms. Conventional structural stand-alone or passive metasurfaces have moved to intelligent metasurfaces by integrating algorithms and nonlinear materials (or active devices).

Intelligent metasurfaces have three important properties: digitalization, programmability, and intelligence. They provide an important opportunity to control interactions without human intervention. Digitization allows the metasurface to encode, decode, and store digital information. Programmability means that the metasurface can perform various functions with one physical object. Intelligence shows that the intelligent metasurface can make decisions, self-program, and perform consistent tasks without human supervision.

Intelligence is the core and algorithms can take on this role well. Artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving rapidly, especially in data mining and knowledge discovery. Deep training has proven to be extremely useful in almost every field of science and engineering. Deep training has had a significant positive impact on the field of metamaterials and metasurfaces. It will undoubtedly give birth to comprehensive and active research areas.

In assessing the future of intelligent metasurfaces, the wireless signals that already exist in our lives can be vital to the further development of the field. The development of 6G wireless communications, green IoT and digital twinning is where smart metasurfaces can benefit.

We can imagine that intelligent meta-surfaces can learn, make decisions, self-program, and continually learn throughout their lives. The intelligent metasurface is an emerging field of research involving various disciplines. There are many open issues that need to be carefully considered in the future.

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


Intelligent AI-Empowered Metasurface Could Revolutionize Our Lives

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