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Published March 6, 2017 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Fundamental limits of ultrathin metasurfaces


We present a set of universal relations which relate the local transmission, reflection, and polarization conversion coefficients of a general class of non-magnetic passive ultrathin metasurfaces. We show that these relations are a result of equal forward and backward scattering by single layer ultrathin metasurfaces, and they lead to confinement of the transmission, reflection, and polarization conversion coefficients to limited regions of the complex plane. Using these relations, we investigate the effect of the presence of a substrate, and show that the maximum polarization conversion efficiency for a transmissive metasurface decreases as the refractive index contrast between the substrate and cladding layer increases. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a single layer reflective metasurface can achieve full 2π phase shift coverage without altering the polarization if it is illuminated from the higher refractive index material. We also discuss two approaches for achieving asymmetric scattering from metasurfaces, and realizing metasurfaces which overcome the performance limitations of single layer ultrathin metasurfaces.

Additional Information

© 2017 The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Received: 07 November 2016; Accepted: 27 January 2017; Published online: 06 March 2017. This work was supported by Caltech/JPL president and director fund (PDF). The authors would like to thank Dr. David Fattal, Dr. Nader Engheta, and Dr. Shanhui Fan for useful discussions. Author Contributions: A.A. conceived the idea. A.A. and A.F. prepared the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023