Experimental demonstration of a unidirectional reflectionless parity-time metamaterial at optical frequencies

Nat Mater. 2013 Feb;12(2):108-13. doi: 10.1038/nmat3495. Epub 2012 Nov 25.


Invisibility by metamaterials is of great interest, where optical properties are manipulated in the real permittivity-permeability plane. However, the most effective approach to achieving invisibility in various military applications is to absorb the electromagnetic waves emitted from radar to minimize the corresponding reflection and scattering, such that no signal gets bounced back. Here, we show the experimental realization of chip-scale unidirectional reflectionless optical metamaterials near the spontaneous parity-time symmetry phase transition point where reflection from one side is significantly suppressed. This is enabled by engineering the corresponding optical properties of the designed parity-time metamaterial in the complex dielectric permittivity plane. Numerical simulations and experimental verification consistently exhibit asymmetric reflection with high contrast ratios around a wavelength of of 1,550 nm. The demonstrated unidirectional phenomenon at the corresponding parity-time exceptional point on-a-chip confirms the feasibility of creating complicated on-chip parity-time metamaterials and optical devices based on their properties.

Publication types

  • Letter