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PHOTOMETA Report Summary

Project ID: 320081
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Greece

Mid-Term Report Summary - PHOTOMETA (Photonic Metamaterials: From Basic Research to Applications)

PHOTOMETA project deals with Negative Index Metamaterials (NIMs), Tunable Metamaterials (MM), Photonic Crystals (PCs), Plasmonics, and Casimir forces in a unified way. It identifies the main challenges of the fields, proposes specific approaches to attend them, and intends to study unexplored capabilities of those metamaterials. The project objectives are: (a) Designing and realization of 3D optical metamaterials, and novel metasurface designs. (b) Understanding and reducing the losses in optical metamaterials by incorporating gain and electromagnetically-induced transparency (EIT). (c) Achieving highly efficient PC nanolasers and surface plasmon lasers. (d) Using chiral MMs and surface plasmons to reduce and manipultate the attractive Casimir and optical forces. (e) Using MMs, combined with nonlinear materials, for THz generation and tunable response. The unifying link in all these objectives is the endowment of photons with novel properties through imaginative use of electromagnetic (EM) field/artificial matter interactions.

Towards the achievement of the above objectives we developed different advanced simulation techniques (e.g. Finite Difference Time Domain method incorporating gain media, thin film and chiral metamaterials retrieval procedures for extraction of effective parameters of thin films and chiral media respectively etc.), and we employed them in detailed simulations, accompanied by careful experiments, which have led already to some important achievements. Some of those achievements are the demonstrations of: (a) loss compensation in optical metamaterials by incorporating gain; (b) new metasurface designs exploiting Babinet’s principle and allowing negative index response with high transmittance; (c) a novel system able to give under certain conditions repulsive Casimir force; (d) a variety of graphene-based metamaterials for THz applications (e.g. THz filter, modulator, etc); (e) strong, broadband THz generation in Split-Ring Resonator metamaterials exploiting the non-linear properties of metals; (f) possibility of achieving toroidal dipolar response in dielectric metamaterials. Such a response is offered for realization of new platforms for sensing, enhancing non-linearity, or even cloaking; (g) an approach for dispersion engineering in a metamaterial. This approach offers great possibilities for any application related to pulse reshaping and compensation; (h) switchable chiral THz metamaterials by properly comping chiral metamaterial structures with photoconducting semiconductors; (i) high-quality resonant metamaterials by exploiting the dark modes of dielectric resonators, and avoiding the high losses inherent into metals.

Regarding photonic crystals, we demonstrated also extremely low-threshold lasing in 2D finite photonic crystals (PCs), exploiting not only the modified density of states provided by the PC but also the easily engineerable modal reflectivity at the interfaces between the PC and its surrounding medium. Moreover, we demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally directional emission, frequency splitter operation, and beam collimation with enhanced transmittance in finite 2D photonic crystals and PC-based structures by modifying properly the structure termination.

All the above results, which have been communicated in many papers and many conferences, pave the way for novel metamaterial and PC related components. Such components can be exploited in a variety of applications, including low threshold lasers, novel components for THz generation and manipulation, novel platforms for beam shaping, steering and manipulation, novel platforms for sensing, security and energy harvesting, and in many other applications areas where the wave-matter interaction is a key issue.

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