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An octave-bandwidth negligible-loss radiofrequency metamaterial

An Erratum to this article was published on 21 February 2011

This article has been updated


Metamaterials provide an unprecedented ability to manipulate electromagnetic waves and are an enabling technology for new devices ranging from flat lenses that focus light beyond the diffraction limit to coatings capable of cloaking an object. Nevertheless, narrow bandwidths and high intrinsic losses arising from the resonant properties of metamaterials have raised doubts about their usefulness. New design approaches seek to turn the perceived disadvantages of dispersion into assets that enhance a device’s performance. Here we employ dispersion engineering of metamaterial properties to enable specific device performance over usable bandwidths. In particular, we design metamaterials that considerably improve conventional horn antennas over greater than an octave bandwidth with negligible loss and advance the state of the art in the process. Fabrication and measurement of a metahorn confirm its broadband, low-loss performance. This example illustrates the power of clever implementation combined with dispersion engineering to bring metamaterials into their full potential for revolutionizing practical devices.

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Figure 1: A horn antenna feeding a satellite reflector antenna.
Figure 2: Broadband hybrid-mode metamaterial liner design.
Figure 3: Comparison of the internal structure, aperture fields and radiation patterns for unlined, trifurcated and metamaterial-lined horn antennas at 5.85 GHz.
Figure 4: Metamaterial liner geometry, properties and incorporation into a rectangular horn antenna.
Figure 5: Measured versus simulated radiation patterns across the extended C band.

Change history

  • 03 February 2011

    In the version of this Article originally published online, the values on the y-axis of Fig. 2d were incorrectly aligned. This error has now been corrected in all versions of the text.


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The work presented in this paper was funded by Lockheed Martin under the University Research Initiative (URI) program.

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Authors and Affiliations



E.L. conceived the soft-metahorn applications and concept for implementation and made measurements. D.H.W. supervised the project and contributed to the metamaterial-liner design concepts. C.P.S. built the metamaterial liner and carried out simulations of the metahorn. Q.W. designed the metamaterial liners. J.A.B. analysed data and authored most of the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Erik Lier or Douglas H. Werner.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Lier, E., Werner, D., Scarborough, C. et al. An octave-bandwidth negligible-loss radiofrequency metamaterial. Nature Mater 10, 216–222 (2011).

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