A Princeton-led research team has created an easy-to-produce material from the stuff of computer chips that has the rare ability to bend light in the opposite direction from all naturally occurring materials. This startling property may contribute to significant advances in many areas, including high-speed communications, medical diagnostics and detection of terrorist threats.
The new substance is in a relatively new class of materials called "metamaterials," which are made out of traditional substances, such as metals or semiconductors, arranged in very small alternating patterns that modify their collective properties. This approach enables metamaterials to manipulate light in ways that cannot be accomplished by normal materials.
Previous metamaterials were two-dimensional arrangements of metals, which limited their usefulness. The Princeton invention is the first three-dimensional metamaterial constructed entirely from semiconductors, the principal ingredient of microchips and optoelectronics.
"To be useful in a variety of devices, metamaterials need to be three-dimensional," said Princeton electrical engineering professor Claire Gmachl, one of the researchers on the study. "Furthermore, this is made from semiconductors, which are extremely functional materials. These are the things from which true applications are made."
The research team, led by Princeton engineering graduate student Anthony Hoffman, will publish its findings online Oct. 14 in the journal Nature Materials. Other Princeton researchers on the team include graduate students Leonid A
|Contact: Hilary Parker|
Princeton University, Engineering School