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Power Electronics Meet Metamaterials
come from:Isis | time:2014-1-23 | views:

- Isis Project No 4180

A ‘metamaterial’ is made up of arrays of electrical circuits whose properties define the overall material behaviour. Power electronics will benefit from the use of metamaterials because of their lightness, the absence of large chunks of magnetic material, having no saturation magnetisation and operation at much higher frequencies.

A metamaterial transformer

Ferromagnetic materials have traditionally been used in electrical power devices such as transformers, motors, actuators and generators. The Oxford invention uses metamaterials for construction of such devices. Metamaterials mimic the effects of the conventional soft ferromagnetic materials and are adaptable to a range of systems while being very lightweight.

Metamaterials have now been used to create a low frequency (less than 200kHz) synthetic magnetic material. Such metamaterials can be effectively used as transformer cores in place of the conventional ferrite.

A metamaterial core is highly frequency dependant, and the element parameters can easily be varied to develop a system that works specifically at any desired frequency. This could be useful in highly sensitive equipment as the metamaterial core could filter out unwanted frequencies. The flexibility of design offered using metamaterial technology also means many limits of operation can be addressed.

Next generation motors

The metamaterial core could also see use in motors, because often very large electric motors (such as those needed in ships) have their size limited by the inability of the craft to cope with such a large weight of iron.

Advantages of a metamaterial magnetic core

The major motivation for using a metamaterial cored transformer is that it can be considerably lighter than other transformers, improving many design applications. For example, large radio amplifiers could see a significant reduction in weight, making transportation much easier. In essence metamaterials offer the following advantages:

  • Lightweight
  • Frequency selective
  • Non-magnetic, hence can be used in MRI machines
  • High-frequency - 200 kHz
  • Switchable magnetic properties

Recent reports suggest that the global market for metamaterial applications may reach $2.6 billion by 2013, while the largest market share was with electromagnetic materials estimated to have reached $102.5 million in 2007.

Patent Status

This invention is the subject of a patent application, and Isis would like to discuss with interested companies to further develop the technology.