Synopsis: Transformation optics by the slice

A general approach works toward bringing the magical ideas of transformation optics closer to practical use.
Synopsis figure
Credit: B. Popa et al., Phys. Rev. A (2010)

The field of transformation optics, where optical materials are tailored to direct the trajectory of light, has led to astonishing devices previously thought to be impossible. Now, perfect lenses fabricated from flat pieces of material, invisibility cloaks, and illusion devices that make an object appear as something else, all appear feasible. The catch is that transformation optics designs, which call for inhomogeneous and anisotropic optical materials, are far ahead of what it is practical to fabricate.

In some cases, it is possible to make the desired optical device by simply layering materials. This approach works for building invisibility cloaks with a spherical geometry, where layering spherical shells of different materials and different thicknesses gives the desired result. Unfortunately, this type of layered design recipe is not available for transformation optics devices with other functionalities.

Writing in Physical Review A, Bogdan-Ioan Popa and Steven Cummer at Duke University in the US have now shown how general devices can be designed such that the material parameters have level sets of identical shape. This allows a convenient “by the slice” solution to device construction based on combining identically shaped layers, each with different, but homogeneous, material parameters. Their design methodology, which in most cases relies on solutions to the eikonal equation of optics, is general and can be applied to yield a layered design for any type of transformation device and geometry. – Mark Saffman


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

OpticsMetamaterials

Previous Synopsis

Nonlinear Dynamics

Branching out

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Optics

Finer features

Read More »

Related Articles

Focus: Strong Light Reflection from Few Atoms
Optics

Focus: Strong Light Reflection from Few Atoms

Up to 75% of light reflects from just 2000 atoms aligned along an optical fiber, an arrangement that could be useful in photonic circuits. Read More »

Synopsis: Controlling a Laser’s Phase
Optics

Synopsis: Controlling a Laser’s Phase

A compact scheme can directly modulate the phase of a laser without a bulky external modulator. Read More »

Focus: Chip Changes Photon Color While Preserving Quantumness
Photonics

Focus: Chip Changes Photon Color While Preserving Quantumness

A new device that can potentially be scaled up for quantum computing converts visible light to infrared light suitable for fiber-optic transmission without destroying the light’s quantum state. Read More »

More Articles