Metamaterials are carefully structured materials — often consisting of periodically arranged building blocks — that exhibit properties and functionalities that differ from and surpass those of their constituent materials rather than simply combining them.

What are the differences between Alloys and Metamaterials, in technical terms, Why are we not happy with alloys, and felt the need to invent new metamaterials?

  • $\begingroup$ Your definition of "differ" is too broad here. We're not talking about something run of the mill simply like being just harder or stronger. We're talking super weird characteristics like negative indexes of refraction. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    May 24, 2022 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen Can you be a bit precise with "weird" characteristics, in technical scientific terms? $\endgroup$
    – Musk
    May 24, 2022 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there is one to be honest. I think meta material just refers to materials that deviate greatly from the norm. I am not aware of one that straddles the border. It's just a label and not a terribly useful one either. Things are what they are. Also, alloys only refers to metals and alloys and their structure does not need to be controlled to the same level as a meta material to do its job. That last part is probably the most rigorous definition I can think of. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    May 24, 2022 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


The term "alloy" has a very specific meaning: a metal made of a base metal with additions that modify its properties.

The term "metamaterial" is much broader. It refers to a material whose structure has been specifically designed to achieve certain properties that would not be possible if the material was used in its bulk, unstructured form.


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