Taming Light and Electrons with Metamaterials

By Nader Engheta

Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania

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In recent years, in my group we have been working on various aspects of metamaterials and plasmonic nano-optics. We have introduced and been developing the concept of "metatronics", i.e. metamaterial-inspired optical nanocircuitry, in which the three fields of "electronics", "photonics" and "magnetics" can be brought together seamlessly under one umbrella – a paradigm which I call the "Unified Paradigm of Metatronics". In this novel optical circuitry, the nanostructures with specific values of permittivity and permeability may act as the lumped circuit elements such as nanocapacitors, nanoinductors and nanoresistors. Nonlinearity in metatronics can also provide us with novel nonlinear lumped elements. We have investigated the concept of metatronics through extensive analytical and numerical studies, computer simulations, and recently in a set of experiments at the IR wavelengths. We have shown that nanorods made of low-stressed Si3N4 with properly designed cross sectional dimensions indeed function as lumped circuit elements at the IR wavelengths between 8 to 14 microns. We have been exploring how metamaterials can be exploited to control the flow of photons, analogous to what semiconductors do for electrons, providing the possibility of one-way flow of photons. We are now extending the concept of metatronics to other platforms such as graphene, which is a single atomically thin layer of carbon atoms, with unusual conductivity functions. We study the graphene as a new paradigm for metatronic circuitry and also as a "flatland" platform for IR metamaterials and transformation optics, leading to the concepts of one-atom-thick metamaterials, and one-atom-thick circuit elements and optical devices. I will give an overview of our most recent results in these fields.


image Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, and Professor of Bioengineering, at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. degree in EE from the University of Tehran, and his M.S and Ph.D. degrees in EE from Caltech. Selected as one of the Scientific American Magazine 50 Leaders in Science and Technology in 2006 for developing the concept of optical lumped nanocircuits, he is a Guggenheim Fellow, an IEEE Third Millennium Medalist, and a Fellow of IEEE, APS, OSA, SPIE and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the recipient of several research awards including the 2008 George H. Heilmeier Award for Excellence in Research from UPenn, the Fulbright Naples Chair Award, NSF Presidential Young Investigator award, the UPS Foundation Distinguished Educator term Chair, and several teaching awards including the Christian F. and Mary R. Lindback Foundation Award, S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award, and W. M. Keck Foundation Award. His current research activities span a broad range of areas including metamaterials and plasmonics, nanooptics and nanophotonics, biologically-inspired sensing and imaging, miniaturized antennas and nanoantennas, physics and reverse-engineering of polarization vision in nature, mathematics of fractional operators, and physics of fields and waves phenomena. He has co-edited the book entitled "Metamaterials: Physics and Engineering Explorations" by Wiley-IEEE Press, 2006.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Nader Engheta (2011), "Taming Light and Electrons with Metamaterials ," http://nanohub.org/resources/11392.

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