Start date: 01 Jun 2008,
End date: 31 Aug 2011
Metamaterials are composite, man-made materials, composed of sub-wavelength metallic building blocks, which show novel and unique electromagnetic properties, not occurring in natural materials. A particularly important class of such materials is the negative refractive index metamaterials (NIM). NIM have been in the foreground of scientific interest in the last seven years. In 2006-2007 near infrared and optical frequencies were obtained, despite the initial objections and disbelief. However, many serious obstacles have to be overcome before the impressive possibilities of optical/photonic metamaterials (PMM) can become real applications. The present project identifies the main obstacles and proposes specific approaches to deal with them; in addition, it intends to study novel and unexplored capabilities of PMM. Specifically, the project objectives are (a) realization of 3D PMM, (b) reduction of losses in PMM, (c) realization of active and tunable/switchable (electrically or optically) PMM by incorporating gain or nonlinearity, and (d) realization of chiral PMM. The accomplishment of those objectives is both a theoretical and a technological challenge, as it requires proofs of concepts, advanced computational techniques and advanced nanofabrication approaches.To guide and test the proposed PMM development effort we have identified a number of important and ICT relevant demonstrators, which include thin-film optical isolators, electro-optic modulators, optical switching, and NIM-based "perfect lenses" in the infrared, and possibly in the visible.The implementation of the project will be done through combined theory/modeling, fabrication and experimental testing efforts, in continuous interaction. The broad theoretical and experimental expertise of the proposers, together with their field shaping past contributions to metamaterials, make them capable to face the challenges involved and to minimize the risk, ensuring the maximum possible success of the project.
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