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A1.5: Photonic Metamaterials

 A1: Photonic Crystals

 A1.1: Theory of Photonic Crystal Structures and Concepts for Photonic Crystal-
Based Devices
 A1.2: Light-Matter Interaction in Nano-Photonic Systems
 A1.4: Three-Dimensional Photonic Crystals
 A1.5: Photonic Metamaterials
 A1.6: Tunable Photonic Metamaterials


Metamaterials: Beyond natural substances

At optical frequencies, electromagnetic waves interact with an ordinary optical material, e.g.,

glass, via the electronic polarizability of the material. By contrast, the corresponding

magnetizability is negligible for frequencies above a few THz, or in other words, its magnetic

permeability is identical to unity (μ=1). Consequently, the optical properties of an ordinary optical

material are completely characterized by its electric permittivity ε(ω). As a result, we can only

directly manipulate the electric component of light with an appropriate optical device while we

have no immediate handle on the corresponding magnetic component.

Photonic metamaterials open up a way to overcome this constraint set by ordinary materials. The

basic idea is to create an artificial crystal with deep sub-wavelength periods. Analogous to an

ordinary optical material, such a photonic metamaterial can be treated as an effective medium

which is characterized by effective material parameters ε(ω) and μ(ω). However, the proper

design of the elementary building blocks ("artificial atoms") of the photonic metamaterial allows

for a non-vanishing magnetic response and even μ<0 at optical frequencies - despite the fact that

constituent materials of the photonic metamaterial are non-magnetic.

What is the excitement all about?

Which new perspectives arise from metamaterials that allow for directly manipulating both the

electric and the magnetic component of light? Forty years ago, V.G. Veselago theoretically

investigated the electrodynamic properties of media which posses a negative electric permittivity ε

together with a negative magnetic permeability μ in the same frequency range. He predicted that

the wave vector of a wave propagating through such a medium is antiparallel to its Poynting

This remarkable property has far-reaching consequences. A light wave impinging from vacuum

onto the surface of such a medium under an angle with respect to the surface normal will be

refracted towards the "wrong" side of the normal, i.e., we obtain negative refraction.

How would an object embedded in such a negative index material look like? While currently

available metamaterials suffer from different limitations, ray-tracing calculations can give us

already an answer to this question and compute corresponding photorealistic images.

Computer generated images of a glass filled with a liquid with n>0 (left) and n<0 (right).

The "cloak of invisibility" is another example for a new optical device which could result from our

ability to control the optical material properties by will. It relies on a well controlled spatial
variation of the electric permittivity and magnetic permeability which guides light around the

central part of the cloak. The animation shown below is the result of a corresponding computer

simulation. Obviously, the plane wave impinging from left is "flowing" around the cloak without

being disturbed by the metallic cylinder in the middle of the cloak.

Animation of the magnetic field flowing around a "cloak of invisibility".

Understanding magnetic metamaterials

While a negative permittivity ε is nothing unusual and occurs in any metal from zero frequency to

the plasma frequency, a large magnetic response, in general, and a negative permeability μ at

optical frequencies, in particular, do not occur in natural materials. In metamaterials however, this

essential requirement for a negative index of refraction can be implemented by an array of

metallic split-ring resonators (SRR). The SRR act as LC-oscillators of eigenfrequency

ωLC=1/sqrt(LC). Since the capacitance C and the inductance L are basically determined by the

dimensions of the SRR, scaling of the structure allows to tune the resonance frequency ranging

from the microwave regime to Terahertz frequencies and the Infrared. Prerequisite for the

magnetic response is the excitation of a circulating current in the individual split-ring resonator by

the incident field. The circulating current induces on its part a magnetic field which can lead to an

effective negative permeability μ.

Analogy between a conventional LC-circuit consisting of a magnetic coil with inductance L and a

capacitor with capacitance C and a single SRR.

Fabrication of photonic metamaterials at the CFN

Metamaterials: Experimental challenges for nanotechnology

The fabrication of metamaterials for optical frequencies poses a big challenge for nanofabrication.

For radiation in the near infrared or in the visible part of the spectrum this requires sub 100 nm

spatial resolution and a high reproducibility at the same time. At the CFN, we are working on the

fabrication of both planar and three-dimensional metamaterials.

Planar metamaterials

Electron beam lithography is a prevalent technique for the fabrication of planar nanostructures. In

a first step, a layer of PMMA positive-resist is spin coated onto a substrate. That followed, the

beam of a computer controlled electron microscope is used to "write" the desired pattern into the

resist. The exposed areas of the resist are dissolved during development resulting in a masque for

the subsequent metal-evaporation process. Finally, the unexposed resist is removed with acetone.

Electron-beam lithography system installed at the CFN.

Employing electron-beam lithography we have produced different photonic metamaterials

designed for optical frequencies: Split-ring resonators, cut-wire pairs, gammadions, and fishnet

structures. The electron micrograph shown directly below depicts a fishnet-structure which

exhibits a negative index of refraction at 780 nm wavelength.

Electron micrograph of a fishnet structure made from Ag and MgF2.

Towards 3D metamaterials

The vast majority of photonic metamaterials has been fabricated by electron-beam lithography.

Although stacking of three or four functional layers made using this method has been reported, a

truly 3D fabrication approach would be preferable for 3D photonic metamaterials. The combination

of direct laser writing (DLW) and metal chemical vapour deposition (CVD) is a very promissing

approach for the realization of this goal.

Lithography of 3D polymeric templates by DLW with lateral feature sizes in the 100 nm range has

become routine and is even available commercially.

DLW setup of the Nanoscibe GmbH.

The resulting polymer template is coated with a thin layer of SiO2 (typically a few tens of

nanometres) using atomic layer deposition. The SiO2 layer provides mechanical stability as well as

chemical protection for the polymer backbone in the following silver CVD process in which the

template needs to be heated to 160°C.

Home-made silver CVD setup.

The electron micrograph below depicts a 3D test structure fabricated along these lines.
This subproject is a collaboration of the CFN with the group of Prof. Soukoulis, Iowa State


 A1: Photonic Crystals

 A1.1: Theory of Photonic Crystal Structures and Concepts for Photonic Crystal-
Based Devices
 A1.2: Light-Matter Interaction in Nano-Photonic Systems
 A1.4: Three-Dimensional Photonic Crystals
 A1.5: Photonic Metamaterials
 A1.6: Tunable Photonic Metamaterials