Fundamental and applied physics of Metamaterials

Metamaterials derive their optical properties not from the interaction of light with atoms, but rather from the interaction of light with small metallic resonating elements.The dimensions of the latter have to be smaller than the wavelength of the electromagnetic waves at hand. These "new" atoms can be designed such that the metamaterials have opticalproperties that are unobserved for natural materials. Often they violate the classical laws of optics.

In the last few years, scientists and engineeers have for instance developed metamaterialswith extraordinary properties, such as negative index of refraction (left-handed materials) or with small group velocity (slow light). Metamaterials allow for an unprecedented control over the propagation of light, and often for applications that people could not have imagined several years ago, such as lenses with perfect resolution, optical invisibility cloaking in space alone but also in space-time, and miniaturised photonic devices going beyond the diffraction limit, such as sub-wavelength  cavities.

New tools to design all these exotic components have been successfully invented. "Transformation optics" for instance is a formalism in which the tools of general relativity are used to design materials in which the light rays bend according to pre-established pathways.

Themes for master thesis research work

  • A study of the physics of two-dimensional graphene-based metamaterials.
  • An investigation of fundamental problems in the electrodynamics of (dispersive) metamaterials.

These master thesis subjects are open to motivated students interested in electromagnetism and optics, and require good analytical and numerical skills. The proposed master theses are of theoretical nature. Please contact one of the promoters or supervisors if you are interested. We can together with you further define the subject and the objectives of your work.

Additional information

  • "March of the Metamaterials", SPIE Professional 3(1), p. 13 (2008)
  • "The Quest for the Superlens", Scientific American, July 2006, p. 60 (2007)
  • "Metamaterials: Transforming theory into reality", JOSA B 26, p. 161 (2009)
  • "Graphene for Terahertz Applications", Science 341 (6146), p. 620 (2013) (contact Vincent Ginis if you want a copy)

Promotor

Prof. Jan Danckaert (jandan@vub.ac.be)

Supervisor

Ir. Vincent Ginis (Vincent.Ginis@vub.ac.be)