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Penn researchers build first physical 'metatronic' circuit
Date:2/23/2012

through the comb. Repeating the experiment using nanorods with nine different combinations of widths and heights, the researchers showed that the optical "current" and optical "voltage" were altered by the optical resistors, inductors and capacitors with parameters corresponding to those differences in size.

"A section of the nanorod acts as both an inductor and resistor, and the air gap acts as a capacitor," Engheta said.

Beyond changing the dimensions and the material the nanorods are made of, the function of these optical circuits can be altered by changing the orientation of the light, giving metatronic circuits access to configurations that would be impossible in traditional electronics.

This is because a light wave has polarizations; the electric field that oscillates in the wave has a definable orientation in space. In metatronics, it is that electric field that interacts and is changed by elements, so changing the field's orientation can be like rewiring an electric circuit.

When the plane of the field is in line with the nanorods, as in Figure A, the circuit is wired in parallel and the current passes through the elements simultaneously. When the plane of the electric field crosses both the nanorods and the gaps, as in Figure B, the circuit is wired in series and the current passes through the elements sequentially.

"The orientation gives us two different circuits, which is why we call this 'stereo-circuitry,'" Engheta said. "We could even have the wave hit the rods obliquely and get something we don't have in regular electronics: a circuit that's neither in series or in parallel but a mixture of the two."

This principle could be taken to an even higher level of complexity by building nanorod arrays in three dimensions. An optical signal hitting such a structure's top would encounter a different circuit than a signal hitting its side. Building off their success with basic optical elements, Engheta
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Contact: Evan Lerner
elerner@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert  

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