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Published May 2010 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

A single-layer wide-angle negative-index metamaterial at visible frequencies


Metamaterials are materials with artificial electromagnetic properties defined by their sub-wavelength structure rather than their chemical composition. Negative-index materials (NIMs) are a special class of metamaterials characterized by an effective negative index that gives rise to such unusual wave behaviour as backwards phase propagation and negative refraction. These extraordinary properties lead to many interesting functions such as sub-diffraction imaging and invisibility cloaking. So far, NIMs have been realized through layering of resonant structures, such as split-ring resonators, and have been demonstrated at microwave to infrared frequencies over a narrow range of angles-of-incidence and polarization. However, resonant-element NIM designs suffer from the limitations of not being scalable to operate at visible frequencies because of intrinsic fabrication limitations, require multiple functional layers to achieve strong scattering and have refractive indices that are highly dependent on angle of incidence and polarization. Here we report a metamaterial composed of a single layer of coupled plasmonic coaxial waveguides that exhibits an effective refractive index of −2 in the blue spectral region with a figure-of-merit larger than 8. The resulting NIM refractive index is insensitive to both polarization and angle-of-incidence over a ±50° angular range, yielding a wide-angle NIM at visible frequencies.

Additional Information

© 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 28 October 2009; accepted 15 March 2010; published online 18 April 2010. We would like to thank J. A. Dionne, H. J. Lezec, E. Verhagen, and A. F. Koenderink for fruitful discussions. This work was supported by the Energy Frontier Research Center program of the Office of Science of the Department of Energy under grant DE-SC0001293, by the National Science Foundation under the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and made use of facilities supported by the Center for Science and Engineering of Materials, an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Caltech. This work is also part of the research program of the `Stichting voor Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM)', which is financially supported by the `Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)'. It was also supported by `NanoNed', a nanotechnology program funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Author contributions: H.A.A. conceived the idea. H.A.A. and A.P. provided guidance throughout the project's development. S.P.B. took the lead in the FDTD analysis. R.D.W. took the lead in developing the analytic coaxial waveguide theory and code. S.P.B., R.D.W., A.P. and H.A.A. all contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

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