Wave-Field Shaping in Cavities: Waves Trapped in a Box with Controllable Boundaries

Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Jul 3;115(1):017701. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.017701. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Electromagnetic cavities are used in numerous domains of applied and fundamental physics, from microwave ovens and electromagnetic compatibility to masers, quantum electrodynamics (QED), and quantum chaos. The wave fields established in cavities are statically fixed by their geometry, which are usually modified by using mechanical parts like mode stirrers in reverberation chambers or screws in masers and QED. Nevertheless, thanks to integral theorems, tailoring the cavity boundaries theoretically permits us to design at will the wave fields they support. Here, we show in the microwave domain that it is achievable dynamically simply by using electronically tunable metasurfaces that locally modify the boundaries, switching them in real time from Dirichlet to Neumann conditions. We prove that at a high modal density, counterintuitively, it permits us to create wave patterns presenting hot spots of intense energy. We explain and model the physical mechanism underlying the concept, which allows us to find a criterion ensuring that modifying parts of a cavity's boundaries turn it into a completely different one. We finally prove that this approach even permits us, in the limiting case where the cavity supports only well-separated resonances, to choose the frequencies at which the latter occur.