Dirac cones induced by accidental degeneracy in photonic crystals and zero-refractive-index materials

Nat Mater. 2011 May 29;10(8):582-6. doi: 10.1038/nmat3030.


A zero-refractive-index metamaterial is one in which waves do not experience any spatial phase change, and such a peculiar material has many interesting wave-manipulating properties. These materials can in principle be realized using man-made composites comprising metallic resonators or chiral inclusions, but metallic components have losses that compromise functionality at high frequencies. It would be highly desirable if we could achieve a zero refractive index using dielectrics alone. Here, we show that by employing accidental degeneracy, dielectric photonic crystals can be designed and fabricated that exhibit Dirac cone dispersion at the centre of the Brillouin zone at a finite frequency. In addition to many interesting properties intrinsic to a Dirac cone dispersion, we can use effective medium theory to relate the photonic crystal to a material with effectively zero permittivity and permeability. We then numerically and experimentally demonstrate in the microwave regime that such dielectric photonic crystals with reasonable dielectric constants manipulate waves as if they had near-zero refractive indices at and near the Dirac point frequency.

Publication types

  • Letter