A material can distort the refraction of infrared light from almost any angle, paving the way for new kinds of optical device.
Such metamaterials are made up of tiny structures that tune electromagnetic waves in ways that would be impossible in a natural material. But they work only for long wavelengths, or with light coming from certain directions.
To create the structure, Takuo Tanaka at the RIKEN Metamaterials Laboratory in Saitama, Japan, and his colleagues first built a flat template out of an etched polymer, silicon and metal strips. When exposed to air, stresses in the strips caused them to curl into three-dimensional rings, a structure that unnaturally bent light coming from almost any angle.
The authors say that the approach could eventually be used in devices such as superlenses, which allow scientists to see beyond the limit of conventional lenses.
Adv. Opt. Mater. http://doi.org/ws3 (2014)