A general property of magnetic fields is that they decay with the distance from their magnetic source. But in a new study, physicists have shown that surrounding a magnetic source with a magnetic shell can enhance the magnetic field as it moves away from the source, allowing magnetic energy to be transferred to a distant location through empty space.
The basis of the technique lies in transformation optics, a field that deals with the control of electromagnetic waves and involves metamaterials and invisibility cloaks. While researchers have usually focused on using transformation optics ideas to control light, here the researchers applied the same ideas to control magnetic fields by designing a magnetic shell with specific electromagnetic properties.
Although no material exists that can perfectly meet the requirements for the magnetic shell’s properties, the physicists showed that they could closely approximate these properties by using wedges of alternating superconducting and ferromagnetic materials.
The Polywell depends greatly on advances in magnet technology. This approach may be applicable, I don’t know.
A practical realization of a magnetic metamaterial still requires all the inconvenience of superconductors which tempers my enthusiasm. Still, this idea glimmers with potential.
Also, I bet I could build and test one. In fact I have almost all the materials on hand. Submit your ideas for an experiment in the comments.
FIG. 4: Enhanced magnetic coupling of two dipoles through free space. In (a), magnetic energy density of two identical cylindrical dipoles separated a given gap. When separating and enclosing them with two of our shells with R2=R1 = 4 [(b)], the magnetic energy density in the middle free space is similar to that in (a). When the inner radii of the shells are reduced to R2=R1 = 10 [(c)], the magnetic energy is concentrated in the free space between the enclosed dipoles, enhancing the magnetic coupling.