Optical metamaterials possess intriguing properties and have many potential applications including superlenses, resonators, cloaking, and others. Through design, negative-index metamaterials (NIMs) have electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability that are both negative, producing an overall index of refraction that is negative in some frequency range. Although many of the predicted properties have been experimentally demonstrated, economical fabrication has continued to be a challenge. In particular, 3D metamaterial structures have been very time-consuming to produce.
The recent collaboration of partners from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the US Navy, and Sandia National Laboratory describe a new nanomanufacturing method for NIMs in a recent report in Nature Nanotechnology (D. Chanda, et al. Nature Nanotechnology 6, 402 (2011)). This report describes a three-step nanotransfer printing technique for making large-area 3D NIM patterns. The team describes successful demonstrations onto a hard, or alternately flexible, substrate surface, and also free standing NIM structures. The resulting structures were tested optically at infrared frequencies. Ultimately, if metamaterials are to see widespread implementation, realistic low-cost methods are needed, and this recent work may provide a valuable contribution toward that goal.
Reviewed by Mark Tuominen, Director of the National Nanomanufacturing Network and Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Chanda D, Shigeta K, Gupta S, Cain T, Carlson A, et al. 2011. Large-area flexible 3D optical negative index metamaterial formed by nanotransfer printing. Nature Nanotechnology. 6 (7): 402-407. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2011.82
Figure reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: Chanda D, Shigeta K, Gupta S, Cain T, Carlson A, et al. 2011. Large-area flexible 3D optical negative index metamaterial formed by nanotransfer printing. Nature Nanotechnology. 6 (7): 402-407. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2011.82