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Active terahertz metamaterial devices

Naturevolume 444pages597600 (2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The development of artificially structured electromagnetic materials, termed metamaterials, has led to the realization of phenomena that cannot be obtained with natural materials1. This is especially important for the technologically relevant terahertz (1 THz = 1012 Hz) frequency regime; many materials inherently do not respond to THz radiation, and the tools that are necessary to construct devices operating within this range—sources, lenses, switches, modulators and detectors—largely do not exist. Considerable efforts are underway to fill this ‘THz gap’ in view of the useful potential applications of THz radiation2,3,4,5,6,7. Moderate progress has been made in THz generation and detection8; THz quantum cascade lasers are a recent example9. However, techniques to control and manipulate THz waves are lagging behind. Here we demonstrate an active metamaterial device capable of efficient real-time control and manipulation of THz radiation. The device consists of an array of gold electric resonator elements (the metamaterial) fabricated on a semiconductor substrate. The metamaterial array and substrate together effectively form a Schottky diode, which enables modulation of THz transmission by 50 per cent, an order of magnitude improvement over existing devices10.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge support from the Los Alamos National Laboratory LDRD programme, and from the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies.

Author information

Author notes

    • Willie J. Padilla

    Present address: Department of Physics, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 02467, USA

    • Richard D. Averitt

    Present address: Department of Physics, Boston University, 590 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, USA

  1. Hou-Tong Chen and Willie J. Padilla: These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Materials Physics & Applications Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 87545, USA

    • Hou-Tong Chen
    • , Willie J. Padilla
    • , Antoinette J. Taylor
    •  & Richard D. Averitt
  2. Applications Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory

    • Hou-Tong Chen
    • , Willie J. Padilla
    • , Antoinette J. Taylor
    •  & Richard D. Averitt
  3. Materials Department, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, 93106, USA

    • Joshua M. O. Zide
    •  & Arthur C. Gossard

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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hou-Tong Chen.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05343

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