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Home / News / Metamaterial is the circuit board of the future

Metamaterial is the circuit board of the future

Oxford University has come up with a way to ditch the traditional circuit board... and it could change technology as we know it

Circuit boards? Dull, dull, dull

Yep. But what if you had a circuit board made of Velcro? instead of wires and solder, science has worked out how to make conductive paths in an otherwise uniform material. Instead of carefully inserting components into pre-ordained slots, you dump them onto a surface and tell them how to connect using radio frequencies. Effectively, it’s NFC on steroids. But dull, you say?

Okay, not dull. But why?

Oh, I don’t know. Flexible, wearable gadgets? Pick ‘n’ mix hardware upgrades for your phone, tablet or TV? Easy home gadget repair? Reliability? Longevity? Streaming 4K movies and CD-quality music through the wallpaper in your house? Should I go on?

No, because it’ll never happen

Actually, boffs at Oxford University have been trying to jimmy metamaterial into the Microsoft Surface tablets due out later this month. And a USB stick has already transferred data simply by touching a metaboard. Of course, it might be hobbled by funding limits and it’s unlikely to be embraced by manufacturers who have long-standing relationships with traditional circuit board makers, but in this Kickstarter age, anything’s possible…

[via The Guardian]

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Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief


Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home