School of Physics and Astronomy

Senior Honours Team Review Project BSc

Metamaterials and Invisibility
Ryan Botha Seumas Finlayson Ian Watt Sean Marc Emlyn Pounder Alasdair Wilson Consulted on by Jamie Cole

February 2012

Abstract Reports that scientists had successfully fabricated a working invisibility cloak generated huge amounts of excitement in both the general public and the scientific community. This breakthrough was attributed to advances made in the field of metamaterials. With the aim being to give an insight into the current status of the field, the underlying theory responsible for the original excitement is examined, along with the difficulties that are constraining progress and the possible future applications of such technologies.

1 Introduction 2 Manipulating Light 2.1 Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1.1 Poynting Vector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1.2 Snell’s Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1.3 Fermat’s Principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2 The Beginning of Metamaterials . . . . . . . 2.2.1 Experimental verification of the first NIM 2.3 Transformation Optics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3.2 Spatial Compression . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3.3 Invisibility cloak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 3 6 8 10 12 14 17 17 19 21 25 25 25 26 27 27 29 29 32 32 33 35 36 40 41 42 42 42 44 46 48 48 50 52 54 54 55 57 58 1

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3 Current Limitations and Hurdles to Overcome 3.1 Already existing techniques of cloaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.1 Stealth technology for aircraft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1.2 Retro-reflective projection technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2 Invisibility cloaks making use of meta-materials . . . . . . . 3.2.1 Microwave cloak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2.2 The criteria for a practical invisibility cloak . . . . . . . . . 3.3 Dealing with the three requirements for a cloak . . . . . . . 3.3.1 Transferring these principles to cloaks for optical frequencies 3.3.2 Absorption of light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3.3 Fabrication Difficulties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3.4 Dispersion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4 Utilising calcite for a carpet cloak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4.1 Plasmonic Microwave Cloak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4.2 Evaluation of the prospects for the future . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Future Applications and Research 4.1 Cosmology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1.1 Black Holes and Solar Energy . . . . . . 4.1.2 Wormholes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1.3 Warp Drive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2 Invisibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2.1 Seismic and Acoustic Cloaking . . . . . . 4.2.2 Tsunami and Fluid Cloaking . . . . . . . 4.2.3 Radar Cloaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3 Superlenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3.1 Lithography, Computing and Microscopy 4.3.2 Ultrasound and LED’s . . . . . . . . . . 4.4 Anntennae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Conclusions

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The way in which light bends and propagates through a medium is governed by its refractive index. The most common example of light manipulation is in a lens, which is a curved piece of glass that bends light when it comes into contact with the air/glass interface due to the different refractive indices of the two substances. The laws of refraction that describe the mechanics of these interactions between material and light have been comprehensively studied and well understood for centuries. When light propagates through an interface with a change in refractive index, according to Snell’s law, it will always bend towards the surface normal. However, certain synthesised materials have displayed the opposite characteristic; light bending away from the surface normal instead of towards it. Any material’s interaction with the electric and magnetic components of an electromagnetic wave are dictated by its permittivity (ε) and permeability (µ) respectively. The observed unnatural phenomenon brought about by these particular parameters of the synthesised materials prompted further study, with the substances coined “metamaterials”. The term metamaterial was popularised by David R. Smith and his group in their seminal 2000 paper Intro [1] which described the physical realisation of a structure displaying the unnatural properties for electromagnetic radiation detailed above. The structure had been theoretically described some 30 years previously by Russian physicist Victor Veselago [4], its extraordinary features being the negative values for both (ε) and (µ) that it possesses. By having negative values for both, the material acquires a negative refractive index which is the requirement needed to bend light away from the surface normal during refraction. The prefix meta in Greek stands for beyond, giving metamaterials the apt meaning of ‘beyond natural materials’. Indeed, the full definition of a metamaterial encompasses far more than something with a negatve refractive index: ”A metamaterial is an artificially structured material which attains its properties from the unit structure rather than the constituent materials. A metamaterial has an inhomogeneity scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of interest, and its electromagnetic response is expressed in terms of homogenized material parameters” [2]. This report looks into the details of how metamaterials are designed to achieve these supernatural properties and how they can be utilized as cloaking devices. This will involve looking at how negative refractive index materials are created and how this affects fundamental physical principles such as Snell’s law, Fermat’s principle and the Doppler effect. We will then go onto discuss the technique known as Transformation Optics. Following this a further discussion of the current technical limitations of metamaterials will be presented, ending in the future prospects of this new technology, which is very much still in its infancy.



Manipulating Light

In electromagnetics, the frequency dependent parts of how a wave propagates in a given medium are described by the ”dispersion relation”. In the presence of dispersion, wave velocity is no longer uniquely defined, giving instead two separate velocities to describe wave propagation. The two velocities in question are the phase and group velocities of a wave. A simple and well-known example of phase velocity dispersion is given by light refraction and the different observed colours which it produces.

Figure 1: White light propagating through a prism displaying the effects of refraction []. When studying the dispersion relation [4], | ω2 εij µij − k 2 δij + ki kj | = 0 c2 (1)

it can be seen that the only two parameters of a material which affect how waves propagate are the dielectric permittivity ε and the magnetic permeability µ. What the dispersion relation does is show how the wave vector k and the frequency ω of a monochromatic wave are related. When considering the case of an isotropic (uniform in all orientations) material, equation (1) simplifies further to [4] k2 = ω2 2 n c2 (2)

where c is the speed of light in a vacuum and n2 is the square of the index of refraction. In Victor Veselago’s paper [4] he was particularly interested in the refractive index of a material as it is related to the permittivity ε and permeability µ by the following relation 3




On first inspection of this relation, it would appear that by taking both ε and µ to be real numbers as well as disregarding material losses (exponential decay through a material), then simultaneously changing the signs of ε and µ will not change the value of n as the negative signs will effectively cancel out. It would have been far easier for Veselago to just accept this and move on with his research. In his paper however, he stipulates three possible answers as to how having simultaneously negative values of ε and µ can be interpreted. The first, which has already been stated, was that the properties of a material are unaffected by having both negative. The second, which at the time would have appeared the most realistic, was that simultaneous negative values would in some way contradict fundamental laws of nature. The third, and which turned out to be true, was that subsequent negatives values of ε and µ gave materials different properties to those with positive values. To prove that this was indeed fact, Veselago had to verify this with the physical laws governing electromagnetic radiation and in particular the laws in which both ε and µ appear separately. These laws were of course Maxwell’s equations: ×E=− ∂B ∂t (4)

×H= where B = µH and D = εE.

∂D ∂t


Consider a uniform plane wave (monochromatic) propagating in some arbitrary direction at a time t. The expressions for the electric and magnetic fields will take the following form respectively: E(r, t) = E0 e(iωt−ik.r) H(r, t) = H0 e(iωt−ik.r) (6)


ˆ ˆ where k = k k, with k a unit vector in the direction of propagation. To show what affect changing the sign of the electromagnetic parameters ε and µ has on the propagation of a wave, we must derive equations in which E and H are both related to the wave vector k. When acting on the above fields with the gradient operator , we see that (e(iωt−ik.r) ) = −ik(eiωt−ik.r ) ⇒ → −ik (8) (9)

Substituting -ik into the left hand side of equation (4) shows: 4

−ik × E = − ∂H ∂t

∂B ∂t


= −µ


= −iµωH0 e(iωt−ik.r)


⇒ −ik × E0 = −iωµH0 Giving k × E0 = ωµH0 Following the same steps as shown above [5], except with equation (5) shows that k × H0 = ωεE0




and we now have two equations relating the wave vector k with the electric and magnetic fields as desired. These equations show that if ε > 0 and µ > 0 then k, H and E form what is known as a right-handed triplet of vectors. Veselago coined the term “left-handed substance”, defining it as having simultaneously negative values of ε and µ producing a left-handed triplet of vectors between k, H and E. Left-handed substances are now more familiarly known as Negative Index Materials (NIM). Veslago characterised a material by its ”rightness”. By giving k, H and E directional cosines and setting them up in a matrix, it can be shown that [4] the determinant is equal to p = +1 if k, H and E form a right-handed triplet of vectors and subsequently p = -1 if they form a left-handed one. Before going on to talk about the effects of what a negative refraction has on many of the fundamental laws of wave propagation, we will first look at ε and µ in a general case and not just when they are both simultaneously negative. This can be summed up nicely in the electromagnetic parameter space diagram (Fig.2) which indicates what materials you would expect to find the different combinations of ε and µ in.


Figure 2: Parameter space of ε and µ where the dashed green line indicates non-magnetic materials with µ = 1 [2] Ordinary materials which are transparent, such as glass or water, have positive values of ε and µ and are found in the first quadrant of the diagram. A negative value of either ε or µ indicates that the field in question induced inside the material is opposite to that of the propagating wave. Metals at optical frequencies are examples of materials with negative ε and in ferromagnetic media around the point of resonance is where values of negative µ can be found. When ε or µ has a negative value, the refractive index is purely imaginary and no waves will propagate. As we are interested in optical frequencies, ordinary materials are found at values of µ = 1 as indicated on the diagram with the dashed green line. Metamaterials with simultaneously negative values of ε and µ are found in the third quadrant. The implications these have on many of the optical laws will now be explored. 2.1.1 Poynting Vector

Electromagnetic waves have the ability to do work, meaning that the waves carry energy. When an electromagnetic wave moves through space, at any point the energy flow of the wave can be described by the Poynting vector S, [6] S=E×H (16)


which describes both the power and the direction of an electromagnetic wave. The Poynting vector always forms a right-handed triplet with E and H. The direction of the velocity of the wave as a whole, the group velocity vgr coincides with the direction of the wave vector S, whereas the direction of phase velocity vph coincides with the direction of the wave vector k as shown in the diagram below of the Doppler effect.

Figure 3: The Doppler effect in a right-handed material (1) and the Doppler effect in a left-handed material (2) or NIM [4] Taking the direction that the vector S moves in as positive, then subsequent negative values of ε and µ will give the medium a rightness of p = -1. This will then result in k and S being antiparallel and consequently so will vgr and vph .

Figure 4: The direction of the group and phase velocities in a NIM [7] 7

The definitions of both the phase and group velocities will be used to show the implications of what this actually means. [7] Vph = co n (17)

Vgr =

∂ω c0 = ∂k (n + ωdn ) dω


As we are dealing with a negative index material, this will mean that from equation (17) the phase velocity will be negative. To obtain a positive value for the group velocity, this will require, ωdn > |n| dω (19)

where n < 0 as stated. Choosing a frequency ω such that n(ω2 ) < 0 implies that the integral of the above will lead to: lnω > lnn n2 ω2 ) > −ln( ) n1 ω1 (20)


where ω2 > ω1 ω2 ω1


⇒ |n1 | > |n2 |


What this equations displays is as the frequency ω1 decreases, the refractive index becomes more and more negative confirming that the refractive index disperses strongly with the frequency. As the frequency continues to decrease there comes a point when n1 → −∞ and the concept of metamaterials doesn’t hold. Allowing n1 to become sufficiently large will mean that the wavelength will be of the same order as the meta-atoms and the refractive index is no longer valid and other concepts will take over [7]; thus verifying the statement at the beginning that the elements of metamaterials must be subwavelength. 2.1.2 Snell’s Law

Take a ray of light which travels from one medium to the other; the following equations must be satisfied at the boundary conditions [4] independently of what rightness the two media have. Es1 = Es2 , Hs1 = Hs2 (23)


ε1 En1 = ε2 En2 , µ1 Hn1 = µ2 Hn2


As the ray moves through the boundary, the x and y components of E and H are unaffected by the rightness of either media. However if the rightness of both media are different, then this results in a change of sign of the z-component.

Figure 5: Ray propagating through two media Ray 1 - incident ray - Ray 2 - reflected ray Ray 3 - refracted if left-handed Ray 4 - refracted if right-handed [4] The resultant reflected ray is the same independent of the rightness of both medium. The refracted ray for a right handed medium bends towards the surface normal whereas with a left-handed medium, it bends away from the surface normal. To keep the usual form of Snell’s law, it must be accepted that negative values of ε and µ produce a medium with a negative index of refraction. Therefore Snell’s law, [4] sinϕ = n1,2 = sinϕ ε2 µ 2 ε1 µ 1 (25)

must be altered as to incorporate the rightness of the two media [4]. The law therefore becomes, sinϕ p2 = n1,2 = | sinϕ p1 ε2 µ 2 | ε1 µ 1 (26)

The values of p1 and p2 are the rightness values of media 1 and 2 respectively and it is clear that negative refraction can take place at the boundary of the two media, provided that the signs of their respective rightness are different. The refractive index is now more formally written as, 9

√ n = ± εµ where the negative sign is used for NIM’s. 2.1.3 Fermat’s Principle


In geometric optics, Fermat’s principle plays a very important role and it states that “light spreads from one point in space to another along the shortest (minimum) path”. [6]

Figure 6: Light propagating through flat interface from point A to B [6] The figure above shows two possible ways that a ray can cross a boundary between two media with indices of refraction n1 and n2 respectively. If n1 and n2 are both positive then the ray travels from A to B along the path AP1B satisfying Snell’s law of refraction. The optical path length L, governed by Fermat’s principle is given by: [6] L = n1 (AP 1) + n2 (P 1B) (28)

The variation of the optical path length δL validates Snell’s law only if it is equal to zero. δL = δ[n1 (AP 1) + n2 (P 1B)] = 0 (29)

This shows that the path length AP1B is in fact a minimum and thus validating Fermat’s principle. Now we consider the case where n1 and n2 are both negative. The rays will again flow from A to B along the path AP1B except the phase and group velocities are antiparallel in each medium as described in the Poynting vector section. Due to this 10

the optical length L turns out to be negative and a maximum, thus breaking Fermat’s principle. Now consider the case when n1 > 0 and n2 < 0. The light will propagate along the path AP2B and the variation of the optical path length δL becomes: [6] δL = δ[n1 (AP 2) + n2 (P 2B)] = 0 (30)

When n2 is negative the optical length becomes an extremium. However in this case, it is impossible to say whether this is the maximum or minimum distance as it depends on the refractive index values of both media, plus the geometry of the system as a whole. Due to this Fermat’s principle must be altered and now reads, “The real way of spreading light corresponds to the local extremium of the optical length”[6] with the term local meaning that there are several ways that light can travel to conform to Maxwell’s equations.



The Beginning of Metamaterials

In 1999 Sir John Pendry produced a paper [3] for the Laguna Beach conference in which he showed that it was possible to build microstructures from non-magnetic conducting sheets which exhibit an effective magnetic permeability, µef f . These sheets could be tuned in such a way as to produce negative µef f , along with having large imaginary components. In the paper Pendry explains the initial ideas and thoughts which eventually lead him to produce materials with negative µef f . He first started with a large array of metallic cylinders which were designed to have magnetic properties in the direction parallel to the axes of the cylinders as shown.

Figure 7: Metallic cylinders with magnetic properties along the axis of the cylinders [3] What Pendry noticed when applying the magnetic field was that in the high frequency limit, or for infinitely conducting cylinders, the effective permeability is reduced by the ratio of the cylinder volume to the cell volume. This ratio is key in the models coming up. The problem found with this structure was that even though it did show magnetic effect, it was very limited. To extend the range of the magnetic effect, Pendry took the same configuration of cylinders as before, except building the cylinders as a system of “split-rings”.


Figure 8: Left - Split-ring cylinder right - current flow [3] In each individual ring there is gap or section missing meaning that the system is effectively open and no current can flow around it. However due to the gap between the two cylinders, a capacitance builds up which then allows a current to flow. What was found was that the greater the capacitance, the greater the current generated. At this point, Pendry was able to control the effective permeability better than before, but still not enough to produce negative µef f . The next idea was to make the cylinder into the shape of a “Swiss roll”. The idea behind the Swiss roll was that it would create a larger capacitance due to more turns in the coil shape. Pendry was able to alter the range of frequencies at will by changing the characteristics of the design, from the size of the ring seperating d, to the amount of turns in a coil. There are a couple of problems for all of these designs however, with the first being that even though there are magnetic properties when the field is aligned along the axis of the cylinders, there is zero response in other directions. The major problem however comes from the electric field and when it is not aligned with the axis of the cylinders. When it’s not aligned, current can flow along the length of the cylinders effectively acting as a mental [3]. Due to the anisotropic nature, Pendry had to come up with a solution which retained magnetic properties, but which was isotropic by design. Pendry adapted the split ring design in such a way that they effectively became rings instead of cylinders. By doing this, Pendry eliminated the current flow along the cylinder which was present before. This however doesn’t solve the anisotropic problem of the cylinder. By printing the rings using metallic inks onto inert materials and assembling in a cubic structure as shown below, Pendry eliminated both the electric response and isotropic design problems.


Figure 9: Split ring disks in cubic design [3] The split-ring design, whilst having a negative effective permeability, still lacked a negative value for the electric permittivity. Professor David R. Smith of Duke University was at the conference when Pendry presented his findings and realised the missing link to create the illusive first NIM. 2.2.1 Experimental verification of the first NIM

Taking Pendry’s initial design of split ring resonators, Smith set to work to produce a material that had simultaneously negative values of ε and µ. Smith knew that he would have to alter the design in such a way as to produce an electric effect of -ε without affecting the effective permeability. Using a single SSR, Smith applied a polarised magnetic field both parallel and perpendicular to the axis of the rings. The reason for this was to confirm that the system only produced magnetic effects when a field was applied parallel to the axis of the rings.

Figure 10: Dispersion curve when magnetic field applied parallel (left) and perpendicular (right) to the axis of SRR [1] Looking at the diagrams, they are clearly very similar and one cannot determine whether the gap in the frequency curve is due to a negative ε or µ by experimentation. The reason for this is because of the symmetry between ε and µ when rearranging equation (2) for the frequency ω. ck ω=√ εµ 14 (31)

Smith decided to add thin metal wires uniformly between the split rings to try and produce a negative value for ε. The experiment was carried out again with the dashed lines indicating when the wires and resonators were used together.

Figure 11: Dispersion curve when magnetic field applied parallel (left) and perpendicular (right) to the axis of SRR. Dashed line indicates when wires placed uniformly between SRR [1] The passband region (dashed line) in the left diagram occurs within a previously forbidden region and indicates that the negative permittivity ε has combined with the negative effective permeability µef f to allow propagation. The right hand diagram again shows a passband occurs, but not in a forbidden region as before. The passband occurs because the effective dielectric function of the split rings exceeded the effective dielectric function of the wire medium. Using values obtained from experiment, Smith was able to deduce from the dispersion relation that there was a negative group velocity inside the passband region. As discussed in the Poynting vector section, this is a requirement for negative refraction. Plotting the frequency against the transmitted power S(t), there is resonance around 5GHz.

Figure 12: Upper (solid) line is with SRR only, dashed line is wires and SRR’s. Point of resonance approx 5Ghz. [1] 15

The diagram shows that at the point of resonance there is a change in transmitted power, such that there is a maximum turning point. This turning point indicates that there is a sign change in the transmitted power and subsequently a sign change in the Poynting vector S. A change in the sign of S implies a negative group velocity, opposite to that of the wave vector k. Smith had met the criteria for negative refraction and from this he had produced the first ever NIM.



Transformation Optics

Transformation optics (TO) is a design tool that can be used to create advanced electromagnetic media that allow for total control over electromagnetic fields. While the theory of TO is applicable to all forms of electromagnetic radiation the main area of interest, as the name suggests, is the visible region. TO provides a new option when it comes to the design of optical devices with it having both advantages and disadvantages over other techniques such as the ray approximation (ray tracing). By using TO to engineer space it is possible to control light in ways previously thought of as impossible. Incredible new optical devices have been theorised; some have even been created in prototype forms. It was one of these devices (the invisibility cloak) that created huge excitement in the general public[8] and really drove the development of transformation optics. Maxwell’s equations describe the inter-relationships between fields, sources and materials [2]. They therefore allow for the study of electromagnetic waves behaviour in different media. TO works by making use of the fact that Maxwell’s equations are form-invariant under a coordinate transformation. As an example to highlight the form-invariance of the equations an arbitrary transformation can be applied to Maxwell’s equations. For a fixed frequency Maxwell’s equations can be written as [9]: × E + iωµH = 0 × H − iωεE = 0 (32) (33)

Where E is the electric field, ω is the angular frequency, H is the magnetic field, µ is the permittivity tensor, and ε is the permeability tensor. Applying a coordinate transformation x = x (x) the equations become: × E + iωµ H = 0 × H − iωε E = 0 (34) (35)

It is clear that the basic structure of the equations (the form) is unchanged by the transformation. The only effect of the transformation is to scale the permittivity and permeability tensors by a factor depending on the Jacobian transformation matrix (a mathematical object) [9]. This knowledge has been around for a long time with the original work on studying the invariance of the equations being performed in main by Dolin [10], Post [11], and Lax-Nelson [12] during the 1960s. Dolin in his work even went as far as to theorise an inhomogeneous sphere that had no effect on incoming plane waves [10] giving the first hint to the potential of transformation optics. The area was only re-established recently with papers [13, 14, 15] that built upon the work done previously that had for the most part been forgotten. Though being form invariant appears to be purely mathematical in nature it has profound physical effects. As discussed previously it is the materials physical characteristics; the 17

permittivity and permeability (ε and µ) that determine its refractive index. Therefore what TO allows is for an objective-orientated approach to be adopted. By transforming Maxwell’s equations, real space can be altered in such a way as to force light to behave in a predesigned fashion that depends on what function the device is supposed to achieve (for example forcing light to flow around a volume of space). The by-product of the transformation is that the physical characteristics of a medium that would result in the modelled behaviour are formulated. The formulated medium is often very complex with it usually being inherently anisotropic and inhomogeneous. The last step is to find a material that satisfies the required constraints formulated by the transformation and design a working device from it. For this reason creating such a device with natural materials is extremely hard, however as discussed previously the conditions can be achieved with metamaterials. This is part of the reason why TO has only recently become an active area of interest in physics again [2]. TO enabled by metamaterials theoretically allows for the complete control of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. From Fermats principle it is known that light will always propagate so that the optical path is an extrema:

δS = δ

nds = 0


Where δS is the change in optical path length which should be zero as the path from position A to B is an extrema. The refractive index, n, is in fact position dependent due to: n= ε(r)µ(r) (37)

Which means that the optical path length is dependent on position. In nature these paths are always straight lines due to the fact that for ordinary materials the refractive index is independent of position within the medium. Metamaterials however allow for the creation of a medium whose refractive index is spatially dependent. This means that it is possible to effectively curve optical space resulting in the ability to curve the flow of light. In this way TO appears similar to general relativity that states that time-space is curved[20]. In fact the similarities between light propagation and effective space time geometries were studied in the 1920’s by Tamm [16, 17]. The field of transformation optics therefore benefits from the work done for general relativity and can make use of some of the tools developed for the study of that subject [18]. With the development of TO a new way of designing optical devices has been created. Traditionally ray tracing (which uses approximate solutions to Maxwell’s equations) was used to study how light rays propagated through an optical system. However this method neglects the wave nature of light and therefore fails when the length scales involved result in diffraction effects being significant. As well as this, the ray technique does not allow for the individual consideration of the electric and magnetic fields, which becomes important for sub-wavelength devices. TO has one major disadvantage, which is the aforementioned requirement that the material used to create a TO device is intrinsically complex.


However this problem can be overcome with metamaterials while the ray approximation technique suffers from fundamental flaws at certain length scales. The key advantage that TO has is that it allows for the manipulation of the electric and magnetic lines of force. It was realised that the field lines of all the conserved quantities (the electric displacement D, the magnetic induction B, and the Poynting vector S) were merely rearranged under a coordinate transformation. The actual result of a coordinate transformation is to just drag the conserved quantities along with the distorted coordinates as if they were fixed to the coordinate system. The result of such a transformation is shown in Figure 13 to aid visualisation. Preforming a transformation not only gives the new values for ε and µ but also allows the designer to predict how the fields will be rearranged. Unlike the ray approach this new method provided by TO is exact to the level of Maxwell’s equations rather than an approximation of the solutions. [19]

Figure 13: To help visualisation of process this example is given. Starting with a Cartesian grid a field line is represented by a darker line on the grid. This line could be the Poynting vector S, electric displacement field D, or magnetic induction B. After an arbitrary transformation the figure shows how the field line is dragged along with the coordinate system as if it was fixed to it [19]. The important fact that the conserved quantities behave as if they are fixed to the original coordinate system is completely independent of the transformation applied. To show this and study the basics of TO in a bit more detail, one of the simplest transformations is examined. 2.3.2 Spatial Compression

One of the simplest transformations that allows for a geometrical view of TO is a one dimensional compression of space. To study the effects of the compression the Poynting vector will be examined before and after the transformation.


Figure 14: Poynting vector plotted for light propagating through vacuum before and after spatial compression of shaded area along the x-axis [19]. Figure 14 highlights that altering the space through which light propagates has a direct impact on its path. Just by looking at the geometric representation of the system it is clear that the properties of the medium in the compressed region have been altered (for example a block of glass would have a similar effect on the lights optical path). By then formulating the material parameters of the compressed region a material could be designed to result in light behaving in the predicted way. An important feature of the figure is that the Poynting vector crosses all the same gridlines in the shaded region at the exact same points as before it is just that the spacing between those gridlines has been altered. To calculate the material parameters of the compressed region two test waves need to be sent into the system to probe the different components of ε and µ. One of the requirements that allows for the formulation of the components is that any wave passing through the compressed region must accumulate the same phase that it would have gained by travelling through the uncompressed region. By satisfying the situation for both the axes parallel and perpendicular to the compression the new values for ε and µ can be calculated as shown in [19]. The result is that the new values are dependent on the distortion applied to the system and it is the link between material parameters and applied distortions that TO is built. Figures 13 and 14 also highlight a few other important features of TO. The first is that any transformation applied has to be local in nature. The reason for this is that the eventual goal of the transformation is to replace the transformed region with a medium designed to have the exact same effects. Therefore having a transformation that extends over all space would result in the material being required to extend over all space which is not only impractical but also impossible. Secondly the deformation of the grid lines also provides a way to visualise the effect of a transformation. It is important to note however that the transformation is just a re-expression of the coordinates and as such cannot affect the solutions to Maxwell’s equations.


Figure 15: Left-hand image shows untransformed solution plotted with respect to original Cartesian coordinate system while right hand image shows untransformed solution plotted with respect to transformed coordinates.[19]. By plotting any field solution this effect can be studied. Plotting the untransformed solution in the original Cartesian coordinate system and the transformed solution in the transformed coordinate system results in exactly the same thing; shown in the left hand image of Figure 15. The right hand image appears to show a new solution to Maxwell’s equations but is in fact due to the plotted solution and coordinate system being out of sync (one is transformed while the other is not). The wave fronts are now clearly distorted within the transformed region with them conforming to the grid lines. The result shown here is due to the fact that the fields associated with the wave solution behave as if they are fixed to the original coordinate system as mentioned previously. Having examined the fundamentals upon which TO is built the next step is to try and gain an insight into the potential power that such a design technique allows. Doing so requires an investigation into the concept that was responsible for the initial growth in the area: the invisibility cloak. 2.3.3 Invisibility cloak

A perfect cloak is one that results in the production of no reflections or shadows. In other words the cloak should not scatter the incoming waves in any direction, reflections being caused by backward scattering while shadows are caused by forward scattering. In the same way that water flows around an obstacle, a cloak should take incoming electromagnetic waves and bend them around an object while making it appear as if nothing ever happened to the waves [2]. While fulfilling these requirements is still hugely difficult, TO, in conjunction with metamaterials, has led to the creation of devices that render objects invisible for certain circumstances. The design process for these incredible devices is no different to the methods mentioned before. The desired behaviour of light is known and TO is employed so that a material 21

can be designed to achieve that behaviour. The only difference between what has been explored before and the design of an invisibility cloak is that the transformation required is more complex. It is important to mention at this stage that there are an infinite number of transformations that could be employed to achieve the required behaviour; it is just a matter of finding the one that results in the most appealing material parameters. As well as that the transformation applied has to insure that the criterion that the cloak be reflection-less is fulfilled. To do this designers make use of a technique used throughout many areas of physics called impedance matching. By insuring that the cloaks surface matches the parameters of the medium that it is surrounded by it can be insured that there is no reflection. Achieving this however is harder than it sounds as it effectively sets a boundary condition upon the cloak which has to be fulfilled, effecting the transformation used. As an example a cloak surrounded by air would be required to have a refractive index of one, if that cloak was then submerged in water it would no longer result in no reflection being produced. To aid understanding a simplistic example of a transformation that results in the required functionality will be explored.

Figure 16: Schematic showing a coordinate transformation that compresses a cylindrical region of radius b into a concentric shell with inner radius a and outer radius b. [2] The simple transformation utilised to achieve the required behaviour of light is shown above in figure 16. The mathematical form of the transformation is given by: a r = (1 − )r + a b r =r f or r ≤ b (38)

f or r > b


Where r is the transformed radius, r was the original radius, a and b are the extremities of the created cloak, and the other components of the cylinder (θ,z) are left unchanged. The transformation effectively expands the axis through the centre of the cylindrical 22

region into a cylinder of radius a compressing the original volume of the cylinder into the region between a and b. The reason why this works to create an invisibility cloak can be thought of in terms of the fundamental behaviour of light. In the original system it is physically impossible for light to penetrate into the axis running through the centre of the cylinder. This is due to the very definition of an axis (or line) having no volume. After the transformation the line is converted into a cylinder with a finite volume however it is still physically impossible for light to penetrate the surface of this new cylinder. The reason for this is because of the fundamentals upon which TO is built. As discussed Maxwell’s equations are form invariant and this means that the laws governing light are the same before and after a transformation. Therefore due to the fact that light cannot penetrate a volume-less line in the original coordinate system the result is that it cannot penetrate the cylinder into which that line was transformed. Hence the transformation creates a volume of space that light cannot enter resulting in anything placed there being termed invisible. The exact same theory applies to transforming a volume-less point in space into a sphere with finite radius [21]. Another way of visualising what occurs after the transformation is to think back to the points made that the conserved fields behave as if they are fixed to the original coordinate system. By compressing the volume within the cylinder to the concentric shell between a and b the original grid lines are dragged in such a way as to leave the central region empty. This results in the field lines being dragged with them and the light being guided around the central region and then exiting the cloak as if unaffected.

Figure 17: Schematics showing how light entering cloak cannot penetrate central volume (inside of which anything placed would be invisible) and instead is guided around to exit cloak as if nothing happened. [14] The formulation of the new material parameters after the transformation is lengthy and involved but once again they are calculated using a Jacobian transformation matrix. Due to the original system being (free space) isotropic and homogeneous the Jacobian matrix is purely diagonal resulting in the calculations being easier than for the general case. The results for the transformation from a cylinder of radius b to concentric shell with inner radius a and outer radius b are: 23

r −a r r εθ = µ θ = r −a b 2 r −a ) εz = µ z = ( b−a r εr = µ r =

(40) (41) (42)

Where εi and µi (i can be either r , θ , or z) represent the different components of the permittivity and permeability tensors in the transformed space (meaning the required parameters of the material required to achieve the desired control of light), r is the radius in the transformed space, and a and b are the extremities of the cloak. Again it can be noted as before that the material parameters depend on the value of the compression applied by the transformation. As well as that fact it should also be noted that for certain values (such as the inner limit of the cloak where r = a) some of the material parameters become unphysical (go to infinity). It is because of this that the realisation of a perfect cloak has still not been achieved and why other more complex transformations may be used instead of this simple one. There are other difficulties that need to be overcome before a perfect invisibility cloak and these are covered in more detail later in the paper.



Current Limitations and Hurdles to Overcome
Already existing techniques of cloaking

Some species of animals and humans with specific fabrics can camouflage themselves by breaking up their outline or by blending in with their surroundings [22] , this is not what this report means by invisibility. Other invisibility technologies, such as aircraft stealth technology, work by preventing information reaching the detector of returning signals, and other kinds, such as the a cloak developed at the University of Tokyo by Susumu Tachi and his team work on the principle of transmitting the image behind the invisibility device to and superimposing it on the concealed object, in order to blend it in with its surroundings. 3.1.1 Stealth technology for aircraft

Technology is available already to render aircraft practically invisible to radar. Radar depends on objects reflecting back radio waves to the transmitter and studying them to determine the location of the aircraft or ship. However, if the craft is built to avoid scattering along the direction of transmission, by shaping it so that radar waves are reflected back along the line of transmission, or by the use of radar absorbent coatings its detectable radar presence or radar profile will render them indistinguishable from electronic noise in the radar system. Unfortunately, this building process renders aircraft so non-aerodynamic that they depend on computers to fly them. Absorption of radio waves also increases the temperature of the stealth aircraft, so that although it is rendered practically invisible to radar they can be detected more readily using infrared technology [22]. The black colouring of most radar reflective coatings also makes it easier to see the aircraft during the day, restricting most stealth aircraft to night operations. These two issues highlight one of the major problems of invisibility technology; though an object may be undetectable in a certain band of the electromagnetic spectrum, it is still just as easy or sometimes easier to detect it in other bands. Another example of a counter-measure of to stealth aircraft is the bi-static radar. Most radars systems depend on the transmitter and receiver of returning radio waves being in the same location. However, as stealth aircraft do reflect some radio waves that are not absorbed by their special coatings, if the receiver is in a different location to that of the transmitter, it is possible to detect the reflected radio waves; the chance of detection is increased with a greater number of transmitters and receivers [23]. This indicates another problem with invisibility technology, the problem of orientation. Just because an object can be rendered invisible from a certain angle of observation, it does not mean that it is invisible from all orientations.



Retro-reflective projection technology

This technology is based on the idea of transmitting what is behind a camouflaged object to a headset worn by the observer and blending it with they see actually in front of them, to make the camouflaged object appear essentially transparent. However, this introduces a problem know as occlusion, where the transmitted object appears in front of the real object in the viewers point of view [24]. The need for a headset and the problem of occlusion is solved by the application of Retroreflective Projection Technology, or RPT, which has four important components: 1. The object to be camouflaged is covered with retro-reflective material. A retroreflective material is one that makes light reflect straight back to the source and is what makes animals eyes appear to glow under torchlight [22]. 2. A projector is then placed into a position that is optically conjugated with the eye of the observer, using a half mirror. This means that the projector projects an image into what appears to be the observers line of sight, using a half mirror (beam splitter). 3. The iris of the pinhole must then be as small as possible, in this case using a pinhole mirror. 4. A camera then takes an image of what is behind the camouflaged object, this image is then projected via the half-mirror into the observers eye, thus making it appear that the camouflaged object is transparent [24]. A schematic of the arrangement used in RPT can be seen in Figure 18.

Figure 18: Configuration of Optical Camouflage [24] This technology could be used to render surgical equipment invisible so as not to block a surgeons view during an operation, or to render aircraft floors invisible in order to assist in landings but it does also have its drawbacks. It could not be used in a military application, 26

as the projector, concealed object and observer must be in a specific arrangement in order for RPT to work. The technology would not be useful in a scenario where it is a requirement that the observer is kept unaware of an object being concealed. Additionally, the outline of an object being concealed is clearly visible [24]. Even though the use of stealth technology and retro-reflective technology can be used to provide invisibility of sorts, they do so without making use of meta-materials, which is the primary focus of this report.


Invisibility cloaks making use of meta-materials
Microwave cloak

A team led by D. R. Smith at Duke University has developed a cloak utilising metamaterials. In this case, the object being cloaked is a conducting cylinder placed at the inner radius of the cloaked area. A cylinder is the largest and the most scattering object that can be hidden in a cloaking field utilising cylindrical geometry [25]. The material used in the creation of this cloak was both anisotropic and inhomogeneous, with the required spatial diameters being determined by coordinate transformations [13]. The resulting cloak did not scatter the incident waves and cast no shadow behind it. This is in contrast to the techniques used for stealth technology in aircraft, which rely on preventing returning waves from reaching the detector, or from RPT technology, which makes a camouflaged object appear to blend in with its surroundings. The design of this cloak compresses the space from a specific area or volume into a predetermined shell around the object being cloaked, which is located within the cloaking devices concealment volume. This is due to the cloak having spatially varying (inhomogeneous) and directionally dependent (anisotropic) permittivity and permeability, resulting in the concealment volume appearing indistinguishable from free space by an observer. In other words, any object being placed in the concealment volume appears to be invisible in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum [25]. The actual cloak consisted of ten concentric circles of the metamaterial, three unit cells tall with the spacing between each circle determined by the need to fit an integral number of unit cells in each circle [25]. This results in the cloak only working in a two-dimensional situation; the conducting cylinder is still visible in the microwave spectrum if viewed from above. Figure 19 displays both the computer simulations and the empirical results of the microwave cloak.


Figure 19: A: Simulation of the cloak with the exact material requirements, B: Simulation of the cloak with reduced requirements due to approximations in the design process, C: Empirical results of the uncloaked copper cylinder, D: Empirical results of the cloaked copper cylinder. The coloured bar on the right shows the instantaneous value of the microwave field [25] . If one compares C and D in Figure X, it can be seen that the cloak significantly reduces both the reflection of microwaves and the shadow produced by the copper cylinder. The wave-front can be seen to compress at the front of the cloak, move around the cloaked cylinder then reform at the back of the cloak, effectively rendering the object invisible in the microwave spectrum. Any imperfections in the cloak can be attributed to approximations made in calculating the structure of the cloak, as well as absorption of microwaves by the meta-material itself [25]. Problems arising from microwave cloak This cloak demonstrates an effective way of concealing an object in the microwave spectrum, though it does have a number of drawbacks. Firstly, as mentioned previously, it is a microwave cloak and in no way conceals the object in the visible spectrum, or indeed any other part of the electromagnetic spectrum excepting microwaves. This is due to the metamaterials being used in the objects causing dispersion, whereby the wave velocity of the electromagnetic wave is dependent on the waves frequency [14]. This is another example of how a cloak may only be tailored to conceal an object in one spectrum, while doing nothing to conceal it in another. Another drawback is that it only works in two dimensions, not three, which would be needed to make an effective cloak in order to completely deceive an observer, which would be desirable in, for example, a military application of the cloak. These limitations also apply to cloaks created for the near-infrared spectrum and will be discussed later in this report.



The criteria for a practical invisibility cloak

The microwave cloak created by D. R. Smith and his team pointed out three requirements previously believed to be essential in order to create a working metamaterial cloak for electromagnetic waves. The three believed requirements were: 1. The material must be anisotropic with respect to light. This requirement means that the way the material acts depends upon the direction that the light waves are hitting it from. An easy to imagine large-scale example of an anisotropic material would be wood. This is hard to split across its grain but much easier to split along it. 2. It must be inhomogeneous, meaning that the arrangement of the material must vary in space and not be regular. 3. It must be magnetically active, that is, it must react to the magnetic field co component of the light that is perpendicular to the lights electrical component [26]. Though all three of these requirements were successfully met for Smith’s microwave cloak, applying them for a cloak that conceals objects in the visible spectrum is much harder, due to restrictions resulting from the raw materials and the fabrication process. More recent research however has shown that not all of these criteria need to be met in order to create a working cloak. The need for the material to be magnetically active can be discounted, providing that the light’s pathway is not altered along the axis of its magnetic field [27], in other words, the cloak works when the light illuminating it is polarized. Additionally, a technique known as conformal mapping can be used to overcome the requirement that the material is anisotropic.


Dealing with the three requirements for a cloak

The requirement that the material needs to be magnetically active is exceedingly challenging to achieve in practice. All incident viewing angles must be accounted for such that the material will react to the light wave’s transverse-magnetic (TM)-field component, perpendicular to its transverse-electric (TE)-field component. This must be maintained across the entirety of the cloak, which with metamaterials is intricate down to the nanoscale [2]. Such a task is decidedly non-trivial across the electromagnetic spectrum, with even microwave cloaks requiring innovative and refined short-cuts to aid the task. However, the visual range is the next bandwidth which researchers are interested in solving the problem for. Fortunately, there is a technique that can circumvent the requirement for frequencies across the spectrum. This mandates that the pathway of the light does not deviate (as a function of displacement) along the direction of its magnetic field. This is seen in the particular configuration for the calcite cloak, which fixes the magnetic permeability for the chosen design specifications (see Section 3.4 for further detail) [27]. There is no reason that prevents this solution from also being applied to cloaks constructed using metamaterials, albeit the implementation would be more complicated. 29

The requirement for inhomogeneity in an invisibility cloak is avoided in the carpet cloak design. The ordinary and extraordinary refractive indices of calcite crystals can be used in tandem with spatial geometry to achieve a veiling effect (see section 3.4). But to directly treat the inhomogeneity problem, metamaterials must be utilised. It so happens that a key concept of manufacturing metamaterials has always been to create a refractive index profile that varies as a function of position. Introducing a gradient of indices is perhaps the most straightforward objective that can be accomplished using the nanofabrication methods [15]. The profile is developed by making a series of cavities throughout the base material, where other materials or “meta atoms” are placed. These are required to be of a scale much reduced from the wavelength that will be cloaked, and to have specific refractive indices that diverge from that of the base material. Advanced engineering techniques, including focussed ion beams, lithography and scanning tunnelling microscopes, are being employed for such minute specifications. Note, however, that the small wavelengths involved serve to inherently limit the size of the object that can be cloaked to dimensions comparable to the wavelength. For the visual range, this is very small indeed and would require a high resolution microscope to observe the effects. It is because of this caveat that conventional carpet cloaks are a competing line of research alongside metamaterials. There exists a certain degree of overlap between them due to the methods employed to engineer their structures. The final deduced requirement of a cloak is that of its anisotropic qualities with respect to light. One method of overcoming this rule is to incorporate conformal mapping into the cloak [15]. This phenomenon is one where, by Fermat’s principle, the light is configured to bend around the cloak so as to take a minimised optical path length. Conformal mapping is therefore directly involved with the ideal technique of achieving invisibility. But with the previously discussed limitations on viewing angle and the size of the object that can be masked, there is an inherent set of restrictions on this technique. Fundamentally, the wave qualities of light only scatter in the desired manner in the absence of an object, so the best simulation of the wave bending will only be achieved to an imperfect degree. This has been directly proven with Fourier analysis. This does not preclude the possibility that the imperfections can be minimised to the point whereby they are nearly eliminated for an observer. In effect, the imperfections related to the act of making an object invisible, must also themselves be made to appear invisible. A conformal map can produce these effects. It describes a dielectric medium, which lays out spatial co-ordinates of the complex plane with points [9]: z = x + iy (43)

onto a Riemann sheet (a “contorted” form of the complex plane). This is contingent on the profile of refractive indices being related to a transformed gradient [10]: n=n| dw | dz (44)


where w(z) is some analytically solvable function. As shown in figure 20, the circular boundary of an object transforms to the upper sheet in the right hand image, while the inner region of the circle is mapped to the lower sheet. The grid formed by curvilinear co-ordinates, depicted in the left hand image, is composed of the inverted function z(w), which effectively corresponds to a rectangular grid. Conformal maps function such that these co-ordinate lines are still mutually orthogonal. It can be seen that light rays follow straight line paths on the w sheets. The right hand image has a black circular feature that is depicted by the black wavy line in the left hand image, indicating a branch cut. The cut is avoided by the blue and green rays, so they never enter the inner circular region of the dielectric. They behave as if there truly was no object impeding their optical path.

Figure 20: Left: a depiction of the way light is required to bend around a cloaked object. Right: a cross section depicting the broad grid patterns which apply in conformal mapping [15]. Therefore, the net effect of a dielectric employing the conformal mapping phenomenon is to induce the incident light-waves to take right angled paths around the dielectric. While both reflection and refraction occur at the dividing line between the inner and outer regions of the device, creating a time delay, the reflection can be compensated for. Anti-reflection coatings can help, or else the layer transition can be made more gentle on a length scale greater than the wavelength scale. This dielectric is ideal for use in a cloaking device, if the refractive index profile can be engineered to the desired specifications. Dielectrics can also be used to reduce the importance of the three requirements in other ways. A cloak was suggested by a team in Nanjing University which was composed of several homogeneous sub-blocks within electromagnetic beam modulation blocks. The blocks depended on layered anisotropic dielectrics, and on propery specified geometry for the cloak to operate. Their work showed that the magnetic requirement could be elimi31

nated using standard dielectrics in a design that did not involve magnets [28]. This paved the way for the carpet cloaks, featuring natural dielectric materials such as calcite. 3.3.1 Transferring these principles to cloaks for optical frequencies

Cloaks that can mask in the near-infrared, a much closer part of the spectrum to visible light than microwaves, have been created due to quite light restrictions on materials as dictated by conformal mapping. These use ion beams to specifically tailor sheets of silicon to be spatially varying (inhomogeneous). The gaps between holes in the silicon sheets were much smaller than the wavelength of the electromagnetic frequencies being cloaked, in this case, 1.5m, a wavelength corresponding to the near infra-red range of light [26]. However transferring this technique to light in frequencies in the visible range is constrained by material requirements for three reasons. 1. The objects concealed under these cloaks are tiny; so small as to render them invisible to the naked eye anyway. This presents a barrier to any practical application for this technology. 2. Photons for light in the visible spectrum have more energy than the band gap of silicon, leading to them being absorbed. A material other than silicon must be found to create this new cloak. 3. The fabrication process become much more complicated as the spatial variations in the new material must be smaller than the wavelengths of visible light, which are smaller than those of the near infra-red spectrum. Wavelengths are in hundreds of nanometres as opposed to micrometres [26]. 4. Metamaterials are dispersive. 3.3.2 Absorption of light

The second issue is of a particular importance. This issue applies not only to silicon, the material used in the aforementioned near-infrared cloak, but also many other metamaterials constructed from metal-dielectric composites. Excitation of free electrons by the photons of visible light energies leads to extinction of visible light [29]. The losses in energy are generally much too high to allow a macroscopic object to be cloaked effectively in the visible light range of the electromagnetic spectrum. These loss-related problems can be reduced, however, research, including that done by Mark Stockman at the University of Georgia, has proved mathematically that, an attempt to reduce the optical loss, or attempting to change the imaginary components of the dielectric permittivity and the magnetic permeability will in turn lead to changes in their real components, which then leads to a loss in the materials negative-refraction properties [30]. Subsequent experiments have provided results in agreement with this theory, showing a nanoscopic dielectric layer embedded in metal that displayed negative two-dimensional refraction accompanied by large losses in the optical spectrum [31]. Obviously, an attempt to reduce 32

these losses, which leads to removing the very property that makes metamaterials useful for constructing a cloak, is not an adequate solution. 3.3.3 Fabrication Difficulties

To create metamaterials for cloaking at optical frequencies, a technique known as focused ion-beam milling (FIB) is used. However, fabrication difficulties arise when attempting to create metamaterials that operate on the visible band of the spectrum. In order for the metamaterial to have any effect on visible light, then the details in the metamaterial structure must be smaller than the wavelength of the visible light. However, traditional lenses as dictated by classical optics have limitations in terms of their focusing power. A square wavelength is the smallest area that the lens can focus on, and the required architecture for a metamaterial cloak is smaller than can be reached with classical limits. The limit of resolution ∆ is shown in Equation 45: [32] ∆= c 2πc = =λ ω f (45)

Where, k= wave number, c=speed of light, ω = angular frequency, f=frequency and λ = wavelength being focussed. FIB is a technique whereby gallium ions are focused into a beam and used to etch surfaces to create the necessary architecture for metamaterials. To apply to optical ranges, the features created must themselves be of the order of 30 nm small with gaps (periodicity) of 300 nm between them. To create a metamaterial cloak that operates in the near-infrared or the visible ranges, a periodicity of below 100 nm, down to as much as 35 nm, can be required. In order to create the metamaterial structures, electron beam lithography (EBL) is used in conjunction with FIB. EBL is similar to FIB except the gallium ions are replaced with electrons. Take the real example of a metamaterial that consists of 50 nm layer of dielectric of refractive index 2.2 sandwiched between two 30 nm layers of gold mounted on a soda-lime glass substrate (base). The base must be transparent to the light being manipulated by the metamaterial so as not to interfere with its operation. A focused-ion beam is then used to etch the material with the required architecture. A schematic of a metamaterial unit cell can be seen in Figure 21.


Figure 21: Schematic of the metamaterial unit cell [33]. This process is incredibly time consuming however. To create a 400 m by 400 m grid of holes with period 780 nm can take up to ten hours. This is due to the fact that a very low current (28 pA) must be used in order to prevent the voids in the gold and dielectric from flaring, and the fact that the drilling must be conducted in two steps: firstly a small pilot hole is drilled followed by the larger concentric final hole. Though suitable for creating prototypes, the time required (and therefore the expense) of creating a cloak on a macroscopic scale would be prohibitive. Indeed, the cloak demonstrated above only displays negative-index metamaterial around at the wavelength 1200 nm, situated in the near-infra red range. The variance in both the effective real and imaginary parts of the permittivity (ε) and permeability (µ) tensors as well as the effective refractive index of the metamaterial with respect to a range of wavelengths can be seen graphically in Figure 22. As can be seen from the graph, the real part of n is only effectively negative around 1200 nm, in the near-infrared band. In order to have an effective refractive index that is negative at lower wavelengths (closer to visible light) than the architecture of the metamaterial must become smaller and smaller and therefore the production time rises, further inhibiting the production of a macroscopic scale cloak.


Figure 22: The left panel (A) displays the results of a simulation for the effective real parts of the parameters of n, µ and ε. The right hand pane (B) is the imaginary parts of the same parameters [33]. The irony is that developments in metamaterials could be used to create superlenses (discussed in section 4), which would lead to superior resolution in order to more easily create the required architecture for cloaks effective in the visible range. [32]. 3.3.4 Dispersion

The cloak used to mask in the near-infrared spectrum also has the same problem as the microwave cloak in that it only conceals in the spectrum to which it is tailor-made for, again due to the dispersive nature of the metamaterials. Take a theoretical example of a sphere being cloaked. In order to achieve this it must appear to the observer as if the light-wave is passing through free-space when in reality it must be ‘curved’ around the sphere (see Figure 17 in the theory section [14] ). For this to happen the curved light must be in phase with light wave that would pass through free-space if the sphere was not there. By implication, the phase velocity of the light being curved is greater than the phase velocity of the light going through free space (light in a vacuum). This requirement does not yet break any of the laws of physics. However, if dispersion is not allowed, this leads to the requirement that the group phase is greater than the speed of light, which is a violation of physical laws [14]. The group velocity can be greater than the speed of light if dispersion is permitted; however, to achieve this, the entire system, observer and cloaked object, must be enclosed in an environment with a high refractive index [34]. Obviously, this is another practical limitation on cloaking technology. It is clear that metamaterials carry challenging difficulties that must be overcome to facilitate the realisation of various cloaking technology. Chief among these obstacles are their demanding material properties, e.g. inhomogeneity where refractive index is required to vary with position. This serves to restrict the bandwidth of the electromagnetic spectrum over which they can function. However, certain materials can be used to avert this 35

drawback by formulating a reduced carpet cloak design. This effectively visually flattens a protuberant reflective surface, and in doing so, vastly broaden the range of frequencies which can be cloaked. The theory behind this method was explored by the Chinese physicist, Yu Luo at Zhejiang University. A specific example is described for calcite, but alternative materials such as calomel may also be employed.


Utilising calcite for a carpet cloak

Research physicists have managed to fabricate a practical carpet cloak, with the SingaporeMIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) [35] and the University of Birmingham and Imperial College London [36] independently making use of the crystalline mineral calcite. The utility provided by these cloaks is twofold. First, the concealment effect they offer is applicable to macroscopic objects, rather than just objects that would be too small to justify cloaking. Secondly, the bandwidth of wavelengths which can be concealed fall comfortably within the visible spectrum In addition, the cloaks can be produced with ease in both the financial and manufacturing sense due to calcite being commonly available in natural deposits. The time invested and the precision required to design the cloak’s parameters also decrease. Calcite is therefore not a metamaterial in the technical sense, as it is not artificially created. It merely has advantageous optical properties. The fact that it does not need a position dependent refractive index lessens the need for engineering on the nanoscale, which otherwise would have made a metamaterial tiresome to manipulate. Following on from the three requirements for an invisibility cloak mentioned in section 3.0.8, it was discovered that the anisotropic condition in fact overrides the inhomogeneity condition. It also need not be magnetically active with respect to the incident light. This means that more simple, spatially homogeneous materials can also be employed in a cloak, which allowed the anisotropic material calcite to be utilised. For instance, the SMART organisation achieved the desired layman effect of an invisibility cloak; incident visible light behaves as if the cloak and the object that it conceals were not physically present. That is, a flat mirrored surface appears to reflect the light. The object was wedge shaped, being 38mm by 10mm wide, with a height of 2mm. This remarkable outcome was achieved by using transformation optics via a particular configuration of calcite prisms. These prisms were glued together such that the geometric and optical parameters of the amalgamated sample were exactly specified. This is in accordance with its birefringence, which will be discussed further shortly. This form of tuning cuts off the smaller, grey triangle (of height H1) in figure 23 (b) when subjected to visible light. That triangle corresponds to the cloaked object. The blue triangle (of height H2) in (a) represents the triangular cross-section of virtual space onto which is mapped the larger, brown quadrilateral in (b). This is formed by the prisms that mask the grey triangle in (b) (all of which describes physical space). The cloak is shown schematically in (c).


Figure 23: A co-ordinate transformation that satisfies the required optical parameters of a carpet cloak. The co-ordinates x, x’,z,z’ are all form invariant, being bounded by the half-widths d [36]. According to the Maxwell equations’ form-invariance under co-ordinate transformation as discussed in section 2.4.1, a co-ordinate transformation can be made in figure 23 from the blue triangle to the combined grey triangle/brown quadrilateral shape. This is mathematically described by x = x, y = H2 − H1 y, z = z H2 (46)

The electromagnetic parameters for the cloak are given by applying these transformations to Maxwell’s equations, giving ¯ ¯ ε = εM , µ = M ¯ Whereby the tensor M is 
H2 H2 −H1
1H − (HH−H2 )d sgn(x) 2 1


0 0
H2 H2 −H1

     

  1H ¯ M =  − (HH−H2 )d sgn(x)  2 1  0

H2 −H1 H2


H2 ( H 1 )2 H2 −H1 d


Notably, the electric permittivity ε and magnetic permeability µ can be left as an isotropic aspect in carpet cloaks, for a certain choice of polarization. For the particular case where light polarized in the TM-field is incident in the x-y plane, there is a tensor of permittivity εx−y and a permeability µz given by ¯   εx−y = ε  ¯ −
H2 H2 −H1
2 H1 H2 (H2 −H1 )2 d 1 2 − (H2 −H1 )2 d sgn(x)

H H2

  

sgn(x) 1 + ( H2H2 1 )2 ( H1 )2 −H d 37

µz = 1


A phenomenon usually associated with crystalline materials, known as birefringence, allows this homogeneous and anisotropic design scheme to be specifically tuned for desired performance. There are two axes that are equal for the calcite macroscopic structure and the third, the axis of rotation (or optical axis), is unique. Thus, it is known as a uniaxial material. This gives it a pair of refractive indices for light polarized both perpendicular and parallel to the optical axis known as the “ordinary index” (no ) and the “extraordinary index” (ne ) respectively. For calcite, these indices have values of approximately 1.49 and 1.66 respectively, for light at 590nm. The transformation condition given by the equation for εx−y is such that the optical axis must form an angle γ to the y axis. This gives three more relations (n2 − n2 )sinγcosγ H1 = − 2e 2 0 d n0 cos γ + n2 sin2 γ e H1 =1− H2 H1 n2 sin2 γ + n2 cos2 γ 0 e − ( )2 2 n0 cos2 γ + n2 sin2 γ d e (49)



H2 − H1 2 2 2 ) (n0 cos γ + n2 sin2 γ) e H2


This design process allowed a cloak made with standard manufacturing methods to also conceal the desired object, as shown in figure 24. The cloak’s parameters were proven to work best for polarized light at the wavelength band 520-570nm, or the colour green (the range for which the human eye is most sensitive). However, the cloak was also relatively efficient for cloaking red and blue light with only minor distortions present. The ability to obscure white light, microwaves and terahertz waves indicated the robustness of the cloak for use across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is true for most carpet cloaks, because their reliance on natural dielectrics gives rise to weak optical dispersion. Further tweaking of the invention may optimise its chromatic performance even further and scaling up the size of the calcite prisms could potentially obscure larger objects.


Figure 24: Schematic showing light at two angles of incidence. In (a) and (b), the incident light (with TM polarization) reflects off the flat mirrored surface as if the cloak and the object it conceals were not present. Yet in (c) and (d), the incident light has TE polarization, and the cloak does not function [36]. Despite the benefits conferred by this optical scheme, a few caveats exist. For example, this calcite cloak is currently only capable of concealing small objects laying flat on a plane, such as a matchstick on a tabletop, and only from a side-on viewing perspective at that. Also, the light must be at a certain polarization, and finally the technology has only been adapted for a two dimensional configuration. Therefore a large moving entity such as a soldier or vehicle would not be made invisible. It may not be possible to configure calcite for this wider purpose, and this is why exotic metamaterials are technically more viable, despite being problematic and significantly more expensive to use. Thus, while calcite and similar materials may avert some common problems involved in the realisation of cloaking technology, they are by no means an optimised solution. However, given that this “flat-projection” cloak was devised with a novel arrangement of calcite pieces, it is not improbable that further, unconventional cloaking schemes could be created. Perhaps these would lead to greater options for both motion of the cloaked object, and the perspective from which the arrangement is observed. What is more, the requirement of requiring specifically polarized light is easily achievable in liquid environments such as underwater, where it can be tuned correctly. The light is predominantly polarized such that the TM-field component points in the same direction as the ground in the underwater environment e.g. the seabed. Research and development is on going at the time of writing this article. An example of 39

a three dimensional carpet cloak which functions in the near-infrared region (close to the visible range) has been constructed in Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany[37]. It has the advantage of not requiring polarized light for its illumination, broadening the prospects for its use. The University of Birmingham groups cloak has functionality for 3D objects of centimetre or millimetre size[36]. And SMART has similarly proclaimed confidence in the likelihood of being able to cloak 3D objects within a further version of their product[35]. 3.4.1 Plasmonic Microwave Cloak

The most up to date cloaking device has still not yet overcome all the problems required for a macroscopic, broadband cloaking device that is effective under all polarizations of light. A team at the University of Austin published a paper in January 2012, detailing what they believe is the first empirical demonstration of a fully three-dimensional cloak in free-space. However, though the problem of making an object undetectable in three dimensions has been overcome, some previously solved problems in two dimensions have returned. Primarily amongst these, this cloak only operates at microwave frequencies as can be seen from Figure 25.

Figure 25: The first and last row are visual representations of the cloaks performance outside of its intended range. The second row shows an absence of near-field scattering at the cloaks optimum frequency and the third row shows the performance of the cloak at its upper bound of performance [38]. As shown in the figure, the cloak operates best at frequencies in the region of 3.1-3.3 GHz, or at wavelengths of 0.091-0.097 m, the microwave segment of the electromagnetic spec40

trum. The black regions show discontinuities in the wave fronts due to the microwaves hitting the Teflon end caps of the cloaking cylinder. Though only operating at microwave frequencies, the cloak still does operate over a broader array of the electromagnetic spectrum than many other cloaks. This new type of cloak uses a new kind of metamaterial, known as plasmonic metamaterials, as opposed to transformation-based metamaterials. There are some plasmonic materials that work at optical frequencies, but the as the wavelength of light decreases, so does the size of the object that can be effectively cloaked in three-dimensions. Instead of being able to cloak an 18 cm long cylinder at microwaves frequencies, the objects that could be cloaked in the visible range would be of the order of microns. Additionally, the cloak only works at certain polarizations [38]. From a more positive perspective, the cloak has a reduced dependence on viewing and illumination angles compared to other designs. It presents a feasible possibility for eventual radar cloaking products, and sensors which can communicate with their surroundings despite being obscured. This obscured sensor has a wide array of possibilities, for example in the biology and engineering field. The current method of production suffers from a thick cloak width and only minimises scattering under one polarisation of light. However, this is a prototype model of sorts and these flaws can be mitigated in future iterations. For example, there is a variant involving mantle cloaking which can optimise the technology. And as with other cloak types, research and development is active and further novel solutions will potentially manifest, allowing for more broad-band masking and larger applications. 3.4.2 Evaluation of the prospects for the future

Many of the hurdles for the creation of invisibility cloaks have been surpassed in recent years. Cloaks have been demonstrated in visible light frequencies, microwave frequencies, over increasingly broad ranges of frequencies and for macroscopic objects. Additionally, three-dimensional cloaking of macroscopic objects in the microwave band of the spectrum has recently been demonstrated with the plasmonic metamaterial cloak. However, this advanced cloaking device cannot yet be scaled up for optical frequencies. A cloak that operates three dimensionally over the full range of the spectrum and can conceal macroscopic objects in all polarisations of light has not yet been discovered and is probably many years away from realisation, if it is at all possible.



Future Applications and Research
Black Holes and Solar Energy

The curved spacetime caused by the immense gravity of a black hole can be simulated using the unique properties of metamaterials, which have been used to experimentally confirm this theory at the microwave level [39]. Similar to the perfect black body in thermodynamics [40], a black hole absorbs all light into its one-way surface with zero reflection. The classical interpretation of the curvilinear spacetime exhibited around black holes in the general theory of relativity is the ‘optical-mechanical analogy’.This analogy is arrived at through the principles of least action that govern particle motion in an arbitrary potential and Fermats principle that describes ray propagation through inhomogeneous media [41]. Thus the behaviour of light around a black hole can be studied using metamaterials and mathematical modelling [42]. The suggested design in [42] is for a metamaterial-based broadband photonic black hole. Such a device could prove invaluable in the field of green energy by potentially acting as both a thermal emitting source and as a means of harvesting sunlight.

Figure 26: A full wave solution result when light is incident to the black hole.[39] As well as synthetic black holes, metamaterials are being utilized in other inventive fashions in a bid to improve solar energy technology. Stanford physicists have demonstrated a configuration of metamaterials that could boost the efficiency of silicon solar cells [43] by an estimated 4% [44]. The active part of silicon cells can’t interact with photons below a certain frequency, namely the red end of the visible spectrum, and exploiting


the currently wasted energy of these photons has long been a goal of the green scientific community.

Figure 27: Green laser light is upconverted to blue by physicists at Stanford using a solution of dye and metal nanoparticles. [44] Metamaterials on the nano-scale are designed to focus light onto special dyes that absorb the low frequency photons and re-emit them with increased energy in a five step process called photochemical upconversion. The mechanics of this process centre around triplettriplet annihilation; where the unusable low frequency photons are absorbed by durable triplet-states which undergo a series of transformations before colliding to produce a higher energy photon [45, 46]. The up-converting material is placed underneath a silicon solar cell and the unused low frequency photon would be upconverted and reintroduced to the cell, however a working model has still not been successfully constructed and cost would be a definite issue in the early stages of the technology, assuming it can indeed be fabricated. E. Narimanov [66] show some promising applications of hyperbolic metamaterials (materials where only one component of the dielectric tensor is negative) in solar power and stealth technology. A hyperbolic metamaterial was made using 35 nm silver nanotubes grown in a 1 cm x 1 cm x 51 µm anodic alumina membranes. The sample was then corrugated by using Al2 O3 to grind the surface. The samples roughness was found to increase from rms = 40 nm to rms = 600 nm leading to a much reduced intensity of reflected light. Figure 28 demonstrates the change in roughness from (c) to (d) and the resulting change in reflectance of S and P polarizations in graph (b). The material’s low intensity of reflection results from an infinite density of photonic states which is typical of hyperbolic metamaterials. This infinite density acts to greatly increase the scattering of light from defects into the surface of the metamaterial. Metamaterials potentially provide the missing piece to this puzzle; the boost in efficiency potentially warranted by 43

their unique parameters makes highly efficient solar cells a real possibility for the future and an important area of metamaterial research.

Figure 28: Comparison of intensity of reflectance between corrugated (d) and noncorrugated (c) metamaterial surfaces exposed to both S and P polarized light. [66] Metamaterials potentially provide the missing piece to this puzzle, the theoretical boost in efficiency potentially warranted by their unique parameters makes highly efficient solar cells a real possibility for the future and an important area of metamaterial research. 4.1.2 Wormholes

The ideas of metamaterial induced invisibility has been geometrically extended to theorize the construction of electromagnetic wormhole devices [47]. These wormholes permit the invisible propagation of electromagnetic waves between locations using metamaterials with specific values of ε and µ. At non-cloaking frequencies the proposed device is a solid cylinder with bell-shaped ends, but at frequencies for which ε and µ are tailored the device effectively changes the topology of space. This can be envisioned as a handle attachment to R3 ; waves propagating through the handle can only exit through one of the ends, and therefore are only visible by waves entering the handle from one of the two ends. For example a magnetic dipole located near one end of the handle would appear to be a monopole to an external observer. For short wormhole lengths (δ 1) the image from the end of the wormhole would resemble a fisheye lens, for longer wavelengths (δ ≥ 1) multiple images and significant distortion occur. Ray tracing models yielded the results below. [47] 44

Figure 29: Images from the end of the wormhole if the other end is an infinite chessboard with a blue sky above. Left is (δ 1) Right is (δ ≥ 1) N.B: Blue sky is for clarity purposes, actual wormhole construction is monochromatic. The cylinder is a special configuration of metamaterials in concentric rings that redirects electromagnetic radiation around itself in the method detailed earlier, thereby rendering itself invisible. The wormhole effectively joins two regions of Euclidian space, shortening the distance between two points. This is the topological change in space referred to above, effective from the perspective of electromagnetic waves travelling down the cylinder. A wormhole consisting of a vacuum or air is also theoretically possible to realise, and gives the design a wider range of potential applications. 1. Optical Cables: The wormhole device naturally functions as an invisible optical cable, which would be very useful for making measurements inside magnetic fields without disturbing them. This use is certainly extendable to medicine; where a wormhole device could be used as an endoscope during surgeries that utilize an MRI machine. The invisible wormhole wouldn’t disturb the homogeneous magnetic field that is required by the machine and could also be used to transport magnetic metals and other materials. 2. Virtual Magnets: A wormhole device could also be utilized to create a magnetic monopole. If one end of the device is deployed inside a magnetic field the waves will be transported along the tunnel turning the other end into an effective monopole. Example in [48]. 3. 3-D Video Display: Split up a cube into voxels (3-dimensional pixels), then put the end of the wormhole tunnel into each voxel, assuming that the voxel is larger than the end of the tunnel. This means that all ends of the wormhole tunnels are visible except when the line of sight is crossed by the end of a different wormhole tunnel. With this set-up light can be inserted to each of the voxels separately, creating a 3-D video display.



Warp Drive

As research into metamaterials becomes more widespread the ideas for their potential applications become more abstract and encapsulating. In a paper submitted to arXiv in 2010, and subsequently reviewed and altered a year later, University of Maryland physicist Igor Smolyaninov extended the theoretical potential of metamaterials to utilizing them as a means to construct a warp drive model [49]. In 1994 Miguel Alcubierre proposed a means of realizing warp drive in the form of a solution to the Einstein Field Equations [50, 51]. The Alcubierre drive is a metric tensor representing a model of spacetime with features akin to the warp drive of Star Trek, namely that it permits superluminal speeds, although not local to the actual vessel. The theory postulates a process whereby space is stretched into a wave which results in the contraction of space in front of a vessel and the expansion of it behind. The vessel essentially surfs this wave in a region of flat space called the warp bubble, remaining stationary while the region of space moves so there are no relativistic effects within the bubble. There are no restrictions on the speed at which space can be stretched. For example inflation theories such as the Big Bang require space to expand at speeds far beyond c. ds2 = c2 dt2 − (dx − v(r)dt)2 − dy 2 − dx2 where r = ((x − v0 t)2 + y 2 + z 2 ) 2 is distance from centre of warp bubble. The Alcubierre drive (Ω) is one of the most studied geometries in general relativity [49] and as such many problems with its underlying theory and potential realisation have been highlighted, quantum considerations especially providing the most immediate counterarguments [52]. Beyond quantum considerations, analysis has also highlighted that even a sub-luminal warp drive would require matter that permits the violation of energy conditions, as the energy density distribution of even the sub-luminal drive is calculated to be negative [53]. Although physics is not wholly condemning of negative energy; for example the emission of Hawking radiation by a black hole is coupled with a flow of negative energy, it is still an undesirable upshot of warp drive theory. This is where metamaterials come to the fore; in his paper Smolyaninov proposes a metamaterial-based model for the Alcubierre drive (Ω) [49] and explores its limitations due to current metamaterial parameters. The physics of a gradually accelerating warp drive can be modelled using newly discovered perfect metamaterials [55]. Considering a 1+1 dimensional warp drive metric of the form: ds2 = ( c 2 2 ) dt − (dx − v0 f (˜)dt)2 − dy 2 − dt2 x n∞ (53)


Where x = x − v0 t and n∞ is a scaling constant. ˜


It is shown [49] using the above metric and Maxwell’s equations that a sub-luminal warp drive model based on the magnetoelectric effect from the perfect metamaterials must satisfy the following inequality: n∞ − 1 v0 ˜ f (˜) ≤ x c n2 ∞ (54)

The crux of this inequality is very interesting, whilst it belies previous theories of superluminal travel due to the n∞ value taken by a vacuum to be equal to 1, it makes subluminal warp drives thermodynamically stable due to the n∞ > 1 value taken on by the material medium. The interest and importance of this result lies in the fact that all the theory and evidence garnered on warp drives has resulted in the conclusion that they were forbidden by the laws of Nature. [51] Also provides an upper bound on the speed attainable using this particular metamaterial model. The upper bound is at n∞ = 2 which implies that the maximum speed of 1 this drive is 4 c. Using the designs of split-ring resonators and fishnet structures and the newly developed perfect magnetoelectric metamaterials [55], experimentalists can reach the limiting values of magnetoelectric susceptibility described by the following inequality:
2 gx ≤ (ε − 1)(µ − 1) 2 ˜x ˜x where gx ≈ n2 vc0 f (˜) and f (˜) = (1 + ∞ a2 −1 ) x2 ˜


This inequality describes the limiting magneto-electric coupling coefficients in thermodynamically stable materials [56]. Classical magnetoelectric materials such as multiferroics and Cr2 O3 , have observed magnetoelectric susceptibilities. That are two orders of magnitude less than permitted by the limiting values of (55). This is why only metamaterials make the implementation of a lab model of the warp drive possible, and allow for essential further study of the very interesting physics of the Alcubierre metric. To physically realise a metamaterial Alcubierre spacetime a non-reciprocal bi-anisotropic metamaterial, in which both spatial and time-reversal symmetries are broken is required as well a solution to the problem of metamaterial loss [57]. Smolyaninov goes on to discuss methods of breaking the symmetries in his paper [49], ending with a reference to another paper confirming that metamaterials with the necessary parameters to construct a warp drive imitation are indeed possible [58]. The ever expanding field of metamaterial research has many interesting subsections but its uses in cosmological modelling are certainly amongst the most engaging to both layperson and scientist. Using metamaterials physicists are theorizing situations and events that 10 years ago would have been dismissed laughably, meaning the prospect of interstellar travel is now fractionally less farfetched. Engaging topics of research like this also serve another purpose; in that they drum up significant interest in science which is always a positive outcome in research.



Seismic and Acoustic Cloaking

Invisibility, a long sought after power, could be transformed from science fiction to reality with advances made in the field of metamaterials. Whilst a Harry Potter style invisibility cloak, is beyond the reach of technology for at least several decades, there are many other, more immediate potential applications of metamaterials coming to fruition and some equally as far-fetched being theorized. The physics of invisibility cloaks is being explored and applied in the motion of in-plane elastic waves [60] and most recently an exciting breakthrough has been made in the field of acoustical cloaking. Building on previous theoretical works [59], physicists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have successfully designed, fabricated and characterized a free space cloak for elastic waves in thin polymer plates at broadband acoustic frequencies ranging over an octave from 200-400Hz [63]. The cloak is 15cm in diameter and consists of 20 concentric rings of 16 different metamaterials; each metamaterial is a composite of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polydimenthylsiloxane (PDMS). A cloaking region roughly equal to the area of large coin is left in the centre (Figure 30). In a comparison with optical metamaterials, here it is the Youngs modulus that is altered across the cloak to manipulate the waves as opposed the permittivity or permeability of electromagnetic devices. The waves slow down as they approach the centre of the cloak but speed up around the edges, meaning that they are completely unaffected by the presence of the cloak and the object in the centre is hidden.

Figure 30: Image of the 1 mm thick PVC and PDMS composite acoustic cloak. Two Euro coin placed in bottom right of figure for comparison [63].


Figure 31: Measurements of sound waves around sample without cloak (a) and with cloak (b) for frequencies of 200 Hz, 300 Hz, 400Hz and 450 Hz [63]. The cloak was tested by placing a loudspeaker at the end of a PVC sheet which had the cloak etched onto it with an obstacle at the centre of the cloak. The results were compared to an identical PVC sheet with only the obstacle etched onto it. Results were recorded using stroboscopic lighting and a camera and are shown in Figure 31. The results showed that in the range of 200-400 Hz, one octave, the wave propagated as if the obstacle was not present. The achievement of Stenger et al is a large step forward indeed it is being hailed by their peers as the “clearest demonstration of effective cloaking in the literature to this point” [64]. Whilst boasting the title of most effective cloak to date in terms of wave disturbance, or rather lack of it, it also spans the greatest bandwidth; a whole octave. This is equivalent to an optical device covering the whole visible spectrum, however achieving such a range for electromagnetic radiation is currently almost impossible [64]. The materials used in this demonstration have a ratio in Youngs modulus (stress:strain) of 1000:1 which is a very favourable ratio when bending waves around obstacles, this ease of manipulation isn’t transferred to the equivalent optical situation. Another advantage this cloak holds over its optical counterparts is ease of construction; precise laboratory machinery can accurately make this kind of cloak whereas electron and ion beam lithography is required to forge optical metamaterials. Acoustic cloaks like this could be see applications in naval technology; being applied to the hulls on boats or submarines to render them invisible to enemy sonar detection. Similarly they could be deployed as a sound-proofing system on conjoining walls, public buildings or laboratories to keep unwanted noise out. An obvious goal of this research is the eventual development of seismic protection devices, used to protect buildings and structures likely to be affected by earthquakes.



Tsunami and Fluid Cloaking

As well as potential earthquake shielding, the physics of optical cloaking has been abstracted in the design of a device that harnesses powerful water waves. Researchers from England and France have produced a paper theorizing and detailing a practical realisation of a cylindrical metamaterial-based cloak for surface waves in a liquid [59]. The transformation optics based theory of metamaterial cloaking has been shown to be extendable to specific types of elastodynamic waves in structural mechanics [9]. It has also been demonstrated that the same geometric transforms are experienced by acoustic waves in a fluid for 2D and 3D geometries [61, 62]. In [59] a mathematical model for the metamaterial based cloak is presented. The function of the structural metamaterial is described theoretically using homogenization theory; for wavelengths that are large in comparison to its differing size, the cloak acts as an effective fluid characterized by a transversely anisotropic viscosity.

Figure 32: The structure of the physical cloak is comprised of concentric rings of identical sectors, increasing in size radially outwards. Homogenization theory is used to mathematically model the motion of fluid within this structure, and hence further the development of its potential applications. The theorized homogenized cloak successfully models the movement of the fluid in the physical structure used for experimentation. The liquid entering the cloak increases in velocity the closer to the centre of the cloak it gets and the viscosity of the fluid is effectively decreased. A good analogy is likening the motion of the fluid in the cloak to that of a whirlpool.


Figure 33: Concentric surface waves at 15.84 Hz and streamlines (blue), in liquid of depth 9mm. Rigid 38mm radius cylinder surrounded by homogenized cloak associated with a structural cloak consisting of a large number of identical curved sectors in ring formation with R1 = 41mm and R2 = 100mm [59]

Figure 34: (left): as (b) but with physical structured cloak with 256 curved sectors (right): physical cloak with 100 sectors and 9.81Hz waves [60] Figure 33 shows the model correctly simulating the motion of the fluid inside the cloak, with the waves behind the cloak and in line with the source (along the 45o angle of the diagram from the horizontal) undisturbed by the cloak. 51

Using the commercial finite elements package COMSOL, the ideal homogenized cloak is compared to its structural equivalent (Figure 34). Whilst not producing perfect results, the results of the simulation are encouraging, with the waves on the left passing through the 256 segment cloak being largely unaffected. On the right, the 100 curved sector cloak for 9.81Hz waves is less effective with reflected waves clearly visible and distorted wave patterns evident beyond the cloak. However, this is largely due to the viscosity of the liquid, the effect of which is lessened by increasing the size of the cloak [59]. As such, this design could realistically be utilized to protect offshore or coastline structures from destructive waves, the implementation of such coastal defences however would be problematic due to cost and aesthetic debate. Another interesting paper by Y. Urzhumov and D. Smith [67] from Duke University demonstrates a simulation of a metamaterial that can move through a fluid without disturbing the fluid’s flow. The design proposed would be to coat an object with an inhomogeneous, anisotropic permeable metamaterial. The metamaterial would be designed to remove turbulent flow behind the object and compensate for viscous drag as it passed through the fluid. The metamaterial could be applied to ships and submarines rendering them without any drag or wake, making them almost impossible to detect in water. Such a material could also be optimised to work in the atmosphere to eliminate drag from the air, offering faster and more energy efficient travel for the aeronautics, automotive and rail industries. 4.2.3 Radar Cloaking

Since the invention of radar during the 20th centuary there have been many efforts undertaken to minimize the effectiveness of such technology. Efforts have included changing the shape of the object, most famously the B-2 bomber, and coating the object in a radar absorbing paint. With the discovery of metamaterials and given the large volume of research and funding done by the US military in this field we can expect many advances in this area in the future. To what degree the advances are actually observed and made public may be limited given the classified nature of such technology (e.g. the recently unknown stealth helicopter used in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden). Researchers at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Field Theory and High Frequency Electronics have developed a method to create a radar absorbing metameterial over a very broad range [72]. The absorber was created by taking a radar absorbing substrate, acting as the base, and adding copper structures onto the surface. The copper geometric shapes (in this case small crosses as seen in figure 35) act as small antennae which resonate at a designated frequency. When at resonance the radiation is absorbed into the metamaterial. Small holes were drilled into the substrate to evoke additional resonances to allow a broader range to be covered. Applications for this metamaterial includes use in military aircraft, boats and submarines They could also prove useful in shielding radar from rooms used to design antennae or in aircraft control rooms.


Figure 35: Image of radar cloak produced by ETH Zurich. Geometric copper crosses can be seen along with the drilled holes in black [72]. A paper published by W. Jiang et al [68] has shown that metamaterials can also be used to create illusions, in this case shrinking the size of an object virtually. Using transformation optics the team fabricated a shrinking device which can take any object with arbitrary size, shape and material properties and transform it to another virtual object with the desired size and material properties. The shrinking device (figure 36) has eight concentric rings of height 12 mm with the inner most ring at 24 mm from the centre and the outer most at 48 mm. The shape and dimensions of the unit cells allowed the team to obtain the desired permittivity and the desired permeability was obtained by length of the split, h1 . The device was found to operate optimally at 9.8 GHz and gave a shrinking radius to c = 8 mm. Simulations were carried out based on a finite element model and experimental measurements were done in a parallel-plate waveguide field-mapping system. The results published by the team are shown to the right of figure 36.


Figure 36: Left: (a) Configuration of objects in real space and (b) demonstration of reduced object in virtual space. (c) Image of constructed metamaterial with image of an individual element (d) [68]. Right: Simulation results of a copper object in real space (a) and virtual space (b). Efield distribution of copper object surrounded by the shrinking device for (c) simulation and (d) measured results [68].


Lithography, Computing and Microscopy

In typical optical systems the smallest object that can be resolved is limited by the diffraction limit. In the visible spectrum this corresponds to an object around 200 nm across; around the size of the smallest bacteria, Mycoplasma. Metamaterials with negative refractive index can overcome this diffraction limit and open the possibility of imaging incredibly small structures. D. G¨ney [65] developed a design for a negative index metau material using the interaction between plasmons and a thin metal film with an array of periodic nanostructures. The proposed metamaterial can be tuned to any frequency in the visible spectrum, has a high degree of merit and could resolve objects down to 100 nm across. With current research into superlenses being in its infancy and given the pace of progress we may indeed see a superlens within the coming decades. If such a lens could be manufactured it would have a myriad of applications. Firstly the lens could be applied in lithography, the process of manufacturing small electronic components, to create extremely small electronics. These electronics would enable the highest speed computers before the inevitable step to Quantum computing. Computers are currently made using UV lasers which are difficult to manufacture and expensive. Using a simple and cheap superlens manufacturers could use a standard red laser in the manufacturing process. Probably the most exciting prospect for a superlens is using it to image extremely small 54

structures. Currently the only way to bypass the diffraction limit is by using a scanning electron microscope. Such microscopes can reach resolutions of 1 nm but are expensive to build and maintain and require samples to be in a vacuum. A cheap superlens would allow almost anyone the ability to examine structures on sub nanometer scales. Such a lens could help inspire a new generation of scientists with the ability to explore a usually unseen microscopic world. Without the need of a vacuum the lens would open up the idea of imaging live cells, bacteria and virus’s leading to breakthroughs in microbiology, nanotechnology and pharmacology. 4.3.2 Ultrasound and LED’s

Figure 37: Image of ultrasound enhancing metamaterial (top right) and magnification of hollow tube structure (width 0.79 mm) [71]. Another application that has seen recent developments is in ultrasound imaging. A paper written by J. Zhu et al [71] in 2010 showed that 3D holey-structured metamaterial could achieve a resolution of λ/50. The metamaterial was constructed by creating 1,600 (40x40) hollow tubes, each of width 0.79 mm and separation 0.79 mm, into a 15.8 cm long copper bar with a 6.3 cm square cross section. When in close proximity to an object the evanescent field components are transported down the tubes due to the Fabry-Perot resonance. Thus the researchers were able to achieve a resolution of 50 times greater than traditional methods. A comparison between a traditional ultrasound and the new metamaterial is shown in Figure 38. We can see that for a line width of 3.18 mm the traditional ultrasound is unable to identify the object. With the metamaterial operating at 2.18 kHz (158 mm) a 3.18 mm object, corresponding to λ/50, can be resolved and identified as the letter E. The metamaterial could be fitted to the front of an ultrasound probe to drastically 55

increase the resolution. It may also be used in high resolution sonar or be used to detect small fractures in engineering structures.

Figure 38: Image of the letter E etched into a copper plate (left), image produced from a typical ultrasound machine (center) and image produced using enhancing metamaterial (right) [71]. Xu et al [70] published a paper in 2010 showing that perfect lens could be used to create an anti-mirror effect. We intuitively understand that when an object is placed in front of a mirror a virtual image is formed on the other side. Xu explains that if two perfect electrical conductors (PECs) are placed on opposite sides of a perfect lens an observer looking from either side would only see one PEC in the far field. LEDs, typically not luminous enough to be used in many applications, could exploit this anti-mirror effect by using a perfect lens to make many LEDs appear as one much brighter LED while maintaining spatial uniformity. The authors also suggest the effect could be used as a beam combining technique to generate a high power coherent laser beam from multiple laser diodes.




Looking towards the immediate future the use of metamaterials in antennae shows great promise. Patent licencing firm Intellectual Ventures (IV) has reported the development of an electronically steered antenna using metamaterials. The Metamaterial Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T) antenna is to operate at radio frequencies for use in the communications industry. The antenna works by feeding the signal through a guided mode which propagates along the surface of the metamaterial. The metamaterial consists of an array of tuneable metamaterial elements which can be activated by a current. When activated the elements scatter the beam out of the guided mode and allow the signal to pass when deactivated. The pattern of activated elements is chosen to direct the beam in a desired direction. This ability makes the technology ideal for use aeronautics, maritime and land transport sectors where antennas must lock onto satellites while moving. Current technology for antennas in these fields fall into two categories: gimbals and phased arrays. Mechanical gimbals are large and heavy making it unsuitable for use in aeronautics where aerodynamics is vital. Phased arrays are extremely expensive, costing around $1,000,000. Thus there is a demand for more economical and efficient alternatives. The antenna is lightweight, compact, cheap and can be mass produced using current lithography equipment. Metamaterials could thus bring us high-speed cheap internet access when traveling by plane, train or bus.

Figure 39: Schematic showing wave (bottom) propagating left to right. Activated elements scatter beam in direction dependent on chosen pattern. Metamaterials could also find their way into horn antennas in space. Researchers at Penn State have worked in collaboration with Lockheed Martin Corp [69] to develop cheap, light and energy efficient horn antennas. Efficient antennas require less batteries or solar cells to power them, saving on mass. With the typical cost of sending an object into orbit being around £5,000 the desire for light and energy efficient antennas is clear.




The field of metamaterials is one of the fastest growing research areas in physics, which is no wonder given the seemingly endless scope of potential uses these unnatural substances have. Through correlation with fiction some of the research encapsulates the interest of the public and investors alike, but in reality it is not warp drives and invisibility cloaks that will dramatically alter the possibilities and mechanics of life as we know it. Rather, more immediately achievable technology like acoustical cloaking of buildings and ships, metamaterial antennas, super-resolution lenses and highly efficient solar cells will be the foundations for the inspiring technology of the 21st century. Whilst fiction has inspired and shaped to a palpable extent the advances science has made, especially in the latter part of the 20th century, it has also warned forebodingly of the potential evils of its inventions and none more so than invisibility. It is perhaps most famously documented in classic literature; H. G. Well’s Invisible Man, and Jack London’s The Shadow and the Flash both depict the spiralling morality and eventual death of the scientists who unlock the secrets invisibility. Even Plato in 380BC predicted invisibility to be a ruinous and amoral entity in The Republic; the good shepherd Gyges becomes corrupt, hedonistic and murderous when wielding the power of invisibility. With this in mind it is doubtful that personal invisibility devices will ever be available to the general public, the potential for abuse of such technology is simply too great. However highly funded research into the subject continues and one would also think that an invisible army would be nothing but a catalyst for destruction. Perhaps in emulation of the continuing nuclear debate, the benefits of invisibility will be weighed up against its potential evils vociferously in years to come.


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