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Cover of Proceedings of the IEEE featuring Hao Xin's researchResearch by ECE professor Hao Xin was featured on the cover of an April 2017 special issue of Proceedings of the IEEE, a monthly peer-reviewed journal published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The publication highlights work by Xin and postdoctoral researcher Min Liang on 3-D additive manufacturing techniques for electromagnetic components, as illustrated by the cover image: an X-band WR-90 waveguide feed for transmitting energy and an Eaton lens, used in high-frequency antenna systems.

The lens was produced in Xin's UA Millimeter Wave Circuits and Antennas Laboratory, which was one of the first to adopt 3-D printing techniques to make metamaterials – engineered materials with properties not found in nature that are designed to affect electromagnetic waves and sound in ways impossible to achieve with traditional materials.

The lab also uses 3-D printers to make a range of conventional things, such as regular antennas and integrated circuits.

Student at Design DayEngineering affects virtually every aspect of our lives, and at the University of Arizona's Engineering Design Day on May 1, more than 500 students – including 94 seniors from the UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering – inte​nd to prove it.

The public is invited to see the displays in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom and on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to attend the awards ceremony in the ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when industry sponsors will present more than $25,000 in cash prizes to project teams.

Download the UA Engineering Design app, available for iOS and Android! Find your favorite project and presenter, and then – new this year! – post to social media directly from the app.

A team led by University of Arizona astronomer Christopher Walker was chosen by NASA to launch a balloon-borne observatory to study interstellar gas and vapors in the Milky Way galaxy and beyond. Chris Walker (left) and STO team on launch day. Credit: NASA/NSF

Walker, a professor of astronomy with joint appointments in electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences, is principal investigator of the Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory, or GUSTO, mission. Other collaborating institutions include NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

"GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle," said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

The mission is scheduled to launch in December 2021 from Antarctica, and is expected to stay airborne between up to 170 days.

Photo: Chris Walker (left) and his STO team on launch day. The balloon can be seen on the left, with the STO payload hanging from a crane truck on the right. (Credit: NASA/NSF)

Recently, a U.S. Air Force general put out a call for researchers to develop a cloaking device that could protect equipment as large as a cargo planeCover of the Star Trek Annual 1978, courtesy of Creative Commons

If the request seems a bit "out there," it's close. The general says his inspiration for the high-tech materials from Star Trek. 

"I asked industry for a cloaking device and they all laughed – they said 'you've been watching too much science fiction,'" said General Carlton Everhart, head of Air Mobility Command. "I said, 'Listen to me – this is what I want – something that would be able to change the waveform.'"

But professor Hao Xin may already have an answer. 

In 2015 Xin's research into microwave frequencies produced metamaterials, artificial materials engineered to bend electromagnetic, acoustic and other types of waves in ways not possible in nature. In particular, they exhibited a property called negative refraction, meaning they could bend a wave backwards.

In theory, if applied to something like a cloak, someone looking at it would see part or none of what's underneath, depending on the cloak's refractive index distribution and whether the light bouncing off of it reached the viewer's eye. 

A cloak is one thing. Could it be used to cover a plane, or a ship?

Xin said it could take years before a working prototype is ready; however, he believes it's possible within his lifetime.

Photo: Star Trek Annual 1978 (courtesy Creative Commons)

University of Arizona College of Engineering