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Friday, July 31, 2009

Metamaterials Allow Long-Range Steering of Light

Ed Hayward writes:

Using a composite metamaterial to deliver a complex set of instructions to a beam of light, Boston College physicists have created a device to guide electromagnetic waves around objects such as the corner of a building or the profile of the eastern seaboard.

As directed by the researchers' novel device, these beams continue to behave as if traveling in a straight line. In one computer simulation, Assistant Professor of Physics Willie J. Padilla and researcher Nathan Landy revealed the device could steer a beam of light along the boundary of the US, stretching from Michigan to Maine, down the seaboard, around Florida and into the Louisiana bayou, according to research published in the research journal Optics Express.

The researchers accomplished their feat by developing a much more precise set of instructions, which create a grid-like roadmap capable of twisting and turning a beam of light around objects or space. Their discovery is an extension of earlier metamaterial "cloaking" techniques, which have conjured up images of the Harry Potter character disappearing beneath his invisibility cloak.

link: The guiding of light: A new metamaterial device steers beams along complex pathways


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