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Metamaterial flexible sheets could transform optics

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Posted June 7, 2013
(a) Photograph of an ultrathin (72 µm thick) metamaterial sample.

(a) Photograph of an ultrathin (72 µm thick) metamaterial sample.

New ultrathin, planar, lightweight, and broadband polarimetric photonic devices and optics could result from recent research by a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists. The advances would boost security screening systems, infrared thermal cameras, energy harvesting, and radar systems.

 

This development is a key step toward replacing bulky conventional optics with flexible sheets that are about the thickness of a human hair and weighing a fraction of an ounce. The advance is in the design of artificially created materials, called metamaterials, that give scientists new levels of control over light wavelengths.

The research was reported online in Science magazine, “Terahertz Metamaterials for Linear Polarization Conversion and Anomalous Refraction.” The team demonstrated broadband, high-performance linear polarization conversion using ultrathin planar metamaterials, enabling possible applications in the terahertz (THz) frequency regime. Their design can be scaled to other frequency ranges from the microwave through infrared.

Polarization is one of the basic properties of electromagnetic waves, describing the direction of the electric field oscillation, and thus conveying valuable information in signal transmission and sensitive measurements.

“Conventional methods for advanced polarization control impose very demanding requirements on material properties and fabrication methods, but they attain only limited performance,” said Hou-Tong Chen, the senior researcher on the project.

Read more at: Phys.org

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