Negative refraction is a startling phenomenon whereby light is bent the 'wrong way' as it refracts into a medium with negative refractive index. Now these conditions can be realized in metamaterials designed to have the desired properties. The consequences are far reaching and open a Pandora's box of possibilities in electromagnetism which scientists and engineers are just beginning to explore. The special issue authored by leading authorities covers key concepts in this emerging field.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
Fig. 1. Number of papers published on negative refraction and related topics.
Why such enthusiasm? Figure 2
shows the four possible combinations of ±ε, ±µ. In each quadrant new phenomena are observed. For example when ε < 0 surface plasmons are observed. Therefore it is as if a new door has been opened into ‘third quadrant’ electromagnetism. One of the phenomena seen here is negative refraction, but there are other remarkable effects to be found such as subwavelength imaging, and I do not doubt that there will be more discovered in the coming months.
All of which is to say that this is a very good time to gather together a special issue before the subject is so big that it fragments into many parts. Even so not every aspect is covered, but we do have a good spread of articles. Computational techniques have been central to progress, Here P. Markoš and C. M. Soukoulis demonstrate the power of the transfer matrix, well adapted to these dispersive materials. P. Kolinko and D. R. Smith and R. W. Ziolkowski present simulations which confirm the concept of negative refraction, and J. B. Pendry shows how to design lenses using negative materials. Experimental evidence is vital to confirm all our theorising: microwave and optical experiments designed to test theoretical predictions are presented by Iyer et al. and by Greegor et al., whereas Fang et al. demonstrate that a silver film can act as an optical amplifier, a key prediction of theory. Meanwhile others are pressing on into new areas: Luo et al. show that in periodic media negative refraction is possible by means other than negative refractive index. Podolsky et al. present a scheme which would realise negative refraction at optical frequencies; Wiltshire et al. apply the concepts to magnetic resonance imaging at 21MHz; A. Lakhtakia shows the effects of chiral media and Lu et al. make a computational demonstration of the backward radiating Čerenkov effect predicted by Veselago.
Fig. 2. Parameter space for ε, µ.
(160.4670) Materials : Optical materials
(230.3990) Optical devices : Micro-optical devices
Focus Issue: Negative refraction and metamaterials
Original Manuscript: March 31, 2003
Revised Manuscript: March 7, 2003
Published: April 7, 2003
J. Pendry, "Introduction," Opt. Express 11, 639-639 (2003)
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