A group of UK researchers has discovered a new type of optical activity by breaking the symmetry of metamaterials with reflected light
Optical activity–rotation of the polarization of light–is well known to occur within materials that differ from their mirror image. But what happens if this symmetry is broken by the direction of illumination rather than the material itself?
Curiosity about this question has led to the discovery of a new type of optical activity. As a group of University of Southampton researchers report in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, breaking the symmetry of metamaterials with reflected light will enable novel applications because it causes optical activity of unprecedented magnitude–far exceeding previously known specular or “mirror-like” optical activity.
At the heart of the group’s work are metamaterials–materials constructed with unique shapes and symmetries that generate properties which don’t occur in their natural counterparts.