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Significant discovery made in the ability to move things with our minds

[June 1, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

Scientists have advanced the first step towards real-time, remote and wireless mind control of metamaterials. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

The extraordinary physical properties of metamaterials have garnered extensive attention from various fields. This new concept of designing artificial materials has brought vitality and vigor to the development of advanced functional materials. Metasurfaces, as the two-dimensional counterpart to metamaterials, offer unprecedented freedom in manipulating electromagnetic waves.

With on-site programming, programmable metasurfaces (PMs) can realize multiple or switchable functions that can be integrated with sensors or driven by pre-defined software.


The self-adaptability of these PMs significantly improves response rates by removing human involvement. However, the switches among different functions on these PMs typically rely on manual operation, and the fundamental framework is wire-connected, manually controlled, and non-real-time switched.

As a result, it is intriguing to construct a comprehensive framework that can achieve remote, wireless, real-time, and mind-controlled functional metasurfaces.


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A team of researchers, led by Professors Shaobo Qu and Jiafu Wang from Air Force Engineering University, along with Professor Cheng-Wei Qiu from the National University of Singapore, has made a significant advancement towards achieving real-time, remote, and wireless control of metamaterials through mind control. Their paper, titled "Remotely Mind-controlled Metasurface via Brainwaves," presents a framework for accomplishing this goal.

In many scenarios, human involvement and participation are typically required. Specifically, in the case of controlling metamaterials, a human must directly control the metasurface using their mind. Additionally, it has been established that brainwaves are generated by a person's brain during the thinking process.


The possibility of utilizing brainwaves as control signals for metasurfaces was proposed by the authors as a means of enhancing the response rate and enabling users to control metasurfaces using their minds.

A schematic diagram shows that people use brainwave control to manipulate electromagnetic waves, which can be extended in some illustrative scenarios, such as attention monitoring, reconfigurable antenna, fatigue monitoring, etc. (CREDIT: Ruichao Zhu, Jiafu Wang, Tianshuo Qiu, Yajuan Han, Xinmin Fu, Yuzhi Shi, Xingsi Liu, Tonghao Liu, Zhongtao Zhang, Zuntian Chu, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Shaobo Qu)

This advancement would represent a significant milestone in the development of intelligent metasurfaces.


Using Bluetooth technology, the research team successfully established remote control by wirelessly transmitting the user's brainwaves to the controller.

In the process of brainwave signal extraction and transmission, the TGAM module extracts brainwave signals and converts them to attention value. And the attention information is transmitted remotely from the Bluetooth module to the Arduino, which outputs different voltages by discriminating values. (CREDIT: Ruichao Zhu, Jiafu Wang, Tianshuo Qiu, Yajuan Han, Xinmin Fu, Yuzhi Shi, Xingsi Liu, Tonghao Liu, Zhongtao Zhang, Zuntian Chu, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Shaobo Qu)

Their objective was to utilize these brainwaves to manipulate the electromagnetic response of PMs, resulting in the ability for the user to control the scattering pattern. This approach enabled the team to showcase an impressive RMCM achievement.


The results obtained from both simulations and tests demonstrated that the user's brainwaves had a direct impact on the outcome, resulting in higher control and switch rates.

In the microwave anechoic chamber, the operator remotely controls the metasurface coding sequence through the brainwave module which will affect the scattering mode of EM waves. The test reveals that EM wave can be controlled via the people’s mind. (CREDIT: Ruichao Zhu, Jiafu Wang, Tianshuo Qiu, Yajuan Han, Xinmin Fu, Yuzhi Shi, Xingsi Liu, Tonghao Liu, Zhongtao Zhang, Zuntian Chu, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Shaobo Qu)

These findings suggest that the model they developed surpasses any existing models or products available in the market. Moreover, their design can be tailored to enhance the precision of their equipment.


The research team aims to integrate their findings with smart algorithms to enhance future processes. They are confident that their discoveries can be applied to various mind-controlled functional or multi-functional metasurfaces. The potential applications of this technology are extensive, spanning from health monitoring to 5G/6G communications and smart sensors.

For more science news stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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