March 19, 2013
Electrical Signals Dictate Optical Properties
Researchers at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have created an artificial material, a metamaterial, with optical properties that can be controlled by electric signals.
Photonic metamaterials are artificial materials created by precise and extremely fine structuring of conventional media using nanotechnology. They offer numerous new applications from cloaking to radically improved solar cells. However, the properties of metamaterials are usually fixed.
Seen as an enabling technology of the future, metamaterials research has grown rapidly in the past decade. The University's Centre for Photonic Metamaterials is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is at the forefront of this development. Director of the Centre Professor Nikolay Zheludev says: "Thanks to nanotechnology we need not depend only on natural materials; we can now engineer optical properties and change them at will. Light-enabled technologies are vital to the 21st century and photonic metamaterials will have a broad impact."
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