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  1. Abstract

    Naturally-occurring thermal materials usually possess specific thermal conductivity (κ), forming a digital set ofκvalues. Emerging thermal metamaterials have been deployed to realize effective thermal conductivities unattainable in natural materials. However, the effective thermal conductivities of such mixing-based thermal metamaterials are still in digital fashion, i.e., the effective conductivity remains discrete and static. Here, we report an analog thermal material whose effective conductivity can be in-situ tuned from near-zero to near-infinityκ. The proof-of-concept scheme consists of a spinning core made of uncured polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and fixed bilayer rings made of silicone grease and steel. Thanks to the spinning PDMS and its induced convective effects, we can mold the heat flow robustly with continuously changing and anisotropicκ. Our work enables a single functional thermal material to meet the challenging demands of flexible thermal manipulation. It also provides platforms to investigate heat transfer in systems with moving components.

  2. Jumping spiders (Salticidae) rely on accurate depth perception for predation and navigation. They accomplish depth perception, despite their tiny brains, by using specialized optics. Each principal eye includes a multitiered retina that simultaneously receives multiple images with different amounts of defocus, and from these images, distance is decoded with relatively little computation. We introduce a compact depth sensor that is inspired by the jumping spider. It combines metalens optics, which modifies the phase of incident light at a subwavelength scale, with efficient computations to measure depth from image defocus. Instead of using a multitiered retina to transduce multiple simultaneous images, the sensor uses a metalens to split the light that passes through an aperture and concurrently form 2 differently defocused images at distinct regions of a single planar photosensor. We demonstrate a system that deploys a 3-mm-diameter metalens to measure depth over a 10-cm distance range, using fewer than 700 floating point operations per output pixel. Compared with previous passive depth sensors, our metalens depth sensor is compact, single-shot, and requires a small amount of computation. This integration of nanophotonics and efficient computation brings artificial depth sensing closer to being feasible on millimeter-scale, microwatts platforms such as microrobots and microsensormore »networks.« less