With the rapid advancement of technology, the manipulation of electromagnetic waves and information has become key to the modern lifestyle. This has called for the development of intelligent metasurfaces – those that do not require manual intervention to control wave-information-matter interaction. To this end, a group of researchers tried to study the development of intelligent metasurfaces with an eye to the future. They say intelligent metasurfaces can benefit the development of 6G wireless communications, green IoT, and digital twinning tremendously.
The development of intelligent metasurfaces has “refreshed human insights into many fundamental laws,” the researchers say, adding they have led to the development of many new devices and systems, like cloaking, tunnelling, and holograms.
“We can envision that intelligent metasurfaces can learn, make decisions, self-programming, and continuously learn throughout their ‘lifetime’,” they said in a statement. The intelligent metasurface is an emerging research direction involving various disciplines. There are a lot of open questions needed to be carefully addressed in the future, the researchers say.
The research was led by Professor Tie Jun Cui of Southeast University and Professor Lianlin Li of Peking University. They have published their paper in eLight.
Intelligent metasurfaces have three crucial properties — digitalisation, programmability, and intelligence. Digitalisation enables the metasurface to encode, decode and store digital information. With programmability, the metasurface can realise distinct functions with one physical entity. Intelligence means the metasurface can make decisions, self-program, and perform successive tasks without human supervision.
In assessing the future of intelligent metasurfaces, the researchers said that the wireless signals that already exist in our lives could be vital to the field’s further development. With the rapid development of artificial intelligence, especially in data mining and knowledge discovery, deep learning has proven extraordinarily useful in nearly every field of science and engineering. Deep learning will definitely give birth to comprehensive and active research directions, they say. Intelligent metasurfaces have the potential to revolutionise our lives, the researchers say.