Researchers from Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Pennsylvania State University (PSU) have created a new electromagnetic metamaterial that they claim can significantly improve the performance of spacecraft antennas, according to a Feb. 15 Lockheed Martin press release.

Metamaterials are designed to have different properties than those found in nature. The metamaterial developed under Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Lockheed Martin’s University Research Initiative is designed to control the way electromagnetic waves travel and could soon be implemented in commercial spacecraft antennas, the press release said. Testing of the prototype antenna involved PSU students.

“Many experts within government, industry and academia have had doubts about electromagnetic metamaterials because they were perceived to have narrow bandwidth and high loss,” Erik Lier, a Lockheed Martin scientist, said in the press release. “The results we achieved in this collaborative effort challenged this paradigm, and I think we’ll see customers benefiting from this technology in the near-term.”