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BNC Annual Research Review: Transforming Light with Metamaterials

By Vladimir M. Shalaev

Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Published on


One of the most unique properties of light is that it can package information into a signal of zero mass and propagate it at the ultimate speed. It is, however, a daunting challenge to bring photonic devices to the nanometer scale because of the fundamental diffraction limit. Metamaterials can focus light down to the nanoscale and thus enable a family of new nanophotonic devices. Metamaterials, i.e. artificial materials with rationally designed geometry, composition, and arrangement of nanostructured building blocks called meta-“atoms,” are expected to open a gateway to unprecedented electromagnetic properties and functionalities that are unattainable with naturally occurring materials. We review this exciting and emerging field and discuss the recent, significant progress in developing metamaterials for the optical part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Specifically, we describe the recently demonstrated phenomena of artificial magnetism across the whole visible and negative refractive indices in the optical range, and we discuss the promising approaches and central challenges in realizing optical cloaking. A new, powerful paradigm of engineering space for light with transformation optics will be also discussed.

A full length lecture on this material can be found at McCoy Lecture: Transforming Light with Metamaterials: A New Paradigm for the Science of Light.


imageVladimir (Vlad) M. Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University, specializes in nanophotonics, plasmonics, and optical metamaterials. He earned a doctoral degree in physics and mathematics in 1983 and a master's degree in physics, with highest distinctions, in 1979, both from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Shalaev came to Purdue in 2001 after previously holding the position of the George W. Gardiner Professor of Physics at New Mexico State University. He also previously taught and conducted research at the SFU and the University of Toronto. Before arriving in Canada and the United States, Vlad Shalaev was a Humboldt Foundation Fellow at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and Paris-Sud University in France. Vlad Shalaev made pioneering contributions to the optics of fractal and percolation composites and to their applications for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). At Purdue, his seminal research in the field of optical metamaterials and transformation optics resulted in several important breakthroughs, including the first experimental observation of a negative refractive index in the optical range, artificial magnetism across the entire visible range, and novel approaches for imaging with sub-wavelength resolution and optical cloaking.

Professor Shalaev has received several awards for his research in the fields of nanophotonics and metamaterials. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), a Fellow of The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA). Professor Shalaev is an editor or co-editor for five books in the area of nanophotonics, is a program chair for a number of international symposia and conferences, and is co-editor and/or an editorial board member for eight research journals. In total, Vlad Shalaev has authored or co-authored three books, 21 invited book chapters and over 300 research publications.


In conjunction with A.V. Kildishev, W. Cai, V.P. Drachev, H.K. Yuan.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Vladimir M. Shalaev (2010), "BNC Annual Research Review: Transforming Light with Metamaterials,"

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Burton Morgan, Room 121, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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