Metamaterials: optical activity without chirality

Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Mar 20;102(11):113902. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.113902. Epub 2009 Mar 19.


We report that the classical phenomenon of optical activity, which is traditionally associated with chirality (helicity) of organic molecules, proteins, and inorganic structures, can be observed in artificial planar media which exhibit neither 3D nor 2D chirality. We observe the effect in the microwave and optical parts of the spectrum at oblique incidence to regular arrays of nonchiral subwavelength metamolecules in the form of strong circular dichroism and birefringence indistinguishable from those of chiral three-dimensional media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Microwaves
  • Optics and Photonics / methods*
  • Stereoisomerism*