Gold- and silver-free metamaterial shows negative refraction in the near-IR

Finite-element simulation of a metamaterial superlens developed at Purdue University shows performance better than the diffraction limit. (Image: Purdue University)

West Lafayette, IN--To create an alternative to the use of silver and gold in metamaterials, researchers at Purdue University, the Russian Quantum Center (Moscow, Russia), and DTU Fotonik, Technical University of Denmark (Lyngby, Denmark) have replaced the noble metals with aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO), resulting in a metamaterial that experimentally demonstrates negative refraction in the near-IR.

Using the metals is impractical for industry because of high cost and incompatibility with semiconductor manufacturing processes. The metals also do not transmit light efficiently, causing much of it to be lost. The Purdue researchers replaced the metals with an "aluminum-doped zinc oxide," or AZO.

"The doped oxide brings not only enhanced performance but also is compatible with semiconductors," said Alexandra Boltasseva, a Purdue University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Purdue doctoral student Gururaj Naik provided major contributions to the research, working with a team to develop a new metamaterial consisting of 16 layers alternating between AZO and zinc oxide. Light passing from the zinc oxide to the AZO layers encounters an extreme anisotropy, causing its dispersion to become hyperbolic, which results in negative refraction.

Research findings are detailed in a paper appearing today (May 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The list of possible applications for metamaterials includes a planar hyperlens that could make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful and able to see objects as small as DNA; advanced sensors; more efficient solar collectors; quantum computing; and cloaking devices (see figure of an earlier planar hyperlens design of silver and silicon dioxide developed at Purdue).

The AZO also makes it possible to "tune" the optical properties of metamaterials, an advance that could hasten their commercialization, Boltasseva said. "It's possible to adjust the optical properties in two ways. You can vary the concentration of aluminum in the AZO during its formulation. You can also alter the optical properties in AZO by applying an electrical field to the fabricated metamaterial."

This switching ability might usher in a new class of metamaterials that could be turned hyperbolic and non-hyperbolic at the flip of a switch.

"This could actually lead to a whole new family of devices that can be tuned or switched," Boltasseva said. "AZO can go from dielectric to metallic. So at one specific wavelength, at one applied voltage, it can be metal and at another voltage it can be dielectric. This would lead to tremendous changes in functionality."

Most Popular Articles


Ray Optics Simulations with COMSOL Multiphysics

The Ray Optics Module can be used to simulate electromagnetic wave propagation when the wavelength is much smaller than the smallest geometric entity in the ...
White Papers

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

All About Aspheric Lenses

The most notable benefit of aspheric lenses is their ability to correct for spherical aberration....

Wavelength stabilized multi-kW diode laser systems

Wavelength stabilization of high-power diode laser systems is an important means to increase the ...
Technical Digests

OPTICAL COATINGS: Evolving technology produces new benefits

The antireflection, high-reflection, and/or spectral characteristics provided by optical coatings...

REMOTE FIBER-OPTIC SENSING: Data in abundance from difficult environments

The use of optical fibers to measure strain, temperature, and other parameters at desired points ...

SCANNERS FOR MATERIALS PROCESSING: Serving demanding applications

Galvanometer-based scanners are an essential component in laser-based materials-processing system...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.


Synopsys' CODE V Version 10.4 is now generally available

03/30/2012 Synopsys' CODE V Enhances Analysis of Precision Optical Systems.

Scratch-resistant mirror with gold surface

03/12/2012 In the LINOS catalog from Qioptiq you will now find the scratch-resistant mirror with gold surface.
Social Activity
Copyright © 2007-2015. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS