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Negative refraction in semiconductor metamaterials


An optical metamaterial is a composite in which subwavelength features, rather than the constituent materials, control the macroscopic electromagnetic properties of the material. Recently, properly designed metamaterials have garnered much interest because of their unusual interaction with electromagnetic waves1,2,3. Whereas nature seems to have limits on the type of materials that exist, newly invented metamaterials are not bound by such constraints. These newly accessible electromagnetic properties make these materials an excellent platform for demonstrating unusual optical phenomena and unique applications such as subwavelength imaging and planar lens design. ‘Negative-index materials’, as first proposed, required the permittivity, ɛ, and permeability, μ, to be simultaneously less than zero, but such materials face limitations. Here, we demonstrate a comparatively low-loss, three-dimensional, all-semiconductor metamaterial that exhibits negative refraction for all incidence angles in the long-wave infrared region and requires only an anisotropic dielectric function with a single resonance. Using reflection and transmission measurements and a comprehensive model of the material, we demonstrate that our material exhibits negative refraction. This is furthermore confirmed through a straightforward beam optics experiment. This work will influence future metamaterial designs and their incorporation into optical semiconductor devices.

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Figure 1: Calculated dielectric function and beam refraction.
Figure 2: Experimental results and theoretical calculations of reflectance.
Figure 3: Experiment demonstrating the transition from positive to negative refraction.


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The authors would like to thank PRISM, PCCM MRSEC, MIRTHE (NSF-ERC) and ARO-MURI for support of this project. In addition, we would like to thank Z. Jacob for useful discussions.

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Correspondence to Anthony J. Hoffman.

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Hoffman, A., Alekseyev, L., Howard, S. et al. Negative refraction in semiconductor metamaterials. Nature Mater 6, 946–950 (2007).

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