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Photonics Dictionary

metamaterial

Metamaterials are artificial materials engineered to have properties not found in naturally occurring substances. These materials are designed to manipulate electromagnetic waves in ways that are not possible with conventional materials. Metamaterials typically consist of structures or elements that are smaller than the wavelength of the waves they interact with.

Key characteristics of metamaterials include:

Negative refraction index: One of the most notable features of certain metamaterials is their ability to exhibit a negative refractive index. In natural materials, like glass or water, light is refracted (bent) in the same direction. In metamaterials, however, it is possible to achieve negative refraction, where light is bent in the opposite direction.

Tailored electromagnetic properties: Metamaterials can be engineered to exhibit specific electromagnetic properties, such as a negative magnetic permeability or an electric permittivity not found in nature. This allows for precise control over the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the material.

Subwavelength structures: Metamaterials often consist of structures or elements smaller than the wavelength of the waves they manipulate. This enables control over the wave properties in ways not achievable with traditional materials.

Metamaterials have applications across various domains, including optics, acoustics, and microwave engineering. They are used to create devices with functionalities not possible using conventional materials, such as invisibility cloaks, super lenses, and antennas with improved performance. The field of metamaterials continues to evolve, and researchers are exploring new ways to harness their unique properties for innovative applications.

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