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Strange new twist: Berkeley researchers discover Möbius symmetry in metamaterials
Date:12/20/2010

Mbius symmetry, the topological phenomenon that yields a half-twisted strip with two surfaces but only one side, has been a source of fascination since its discovery in 1858 by German mathematician August Mbius. As artist M.C. Escher so vividly demonstrated in his "parade of ants," it is possible to traverse the "inside" and "outside" surfaces of a Mbius strip without crossing over an edge. For years, scientists have been searching for an example of Mbius symmetry in natural materials without any success. Now a team of scientists has discovered Mbius symmetry in metamaterials materials engineered from artificial "atoms" and "molecules" with electromagnetic properties that arise from their structure rather than their chemical composition.

Xiang Zhang, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and a professor at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, led a study in which electromagnetic Mbius symmetry was successfully introduced into composite metamolecular systems made from metals and dielectrics. This discovery opens the door to finding and exploiting novel phenomena in metamaterials.

"We have experimentally observed a new topological symmetry in electromagnetic metamaterial systems that is equivalent to the structural symmetry of a Mbius strip, with the number of twists controlled by sign changes in the electromagnetic coupling between the meta-atoms," Zhang says. "We have further demonstrated that metamaterials with different coupling signs exhibit resonance frequencies that depend on the number but not the locations of the twists. This confirms the topological nature of the symmetry."

Working with metallic resonant meta-atoms configured as coupled split-ring resonators, Zhang and members of his research group assembled three of these meta-atoms into trimers. Through careful design of the electromagnetic couplings between the constituent meta-atoms, these
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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