Zero-Index Platforms: Where Light Defies Geometry

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September 24, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: September 24 on

Geometry-invariant effects in structures with near-zero permittivity or permeability could lead to deformable optical devices, and to new insights into unique light-matter interactions.

Light and electromagnetic fields can propagate in vacuum at the maximal speed achievable—the speed of light. This characteristic, while invaluable for fast, long-range communications systems, also raises challenges for control and manipulation, making light virtually impossible to store.

Yet because light also interacts with matter, macroscopic media can be used to harness and manipulate light. And the possibilities of controlling light with matter are boosted still further through the use of metamaterials—carefully crafted media whose constituent elements have a structure and arrangement that enables distinct forms of interaction with and control of light, including bending, focusing, shaping, cloaking and even performing mathematical operations with light.