Synopsis: Superconductor optics

In the domain of unusual optical properties, layered superconductors could be viable materials with a negative index of refraction.
Synopsis figure
V. Golick et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2010)

Materials with a negative index of refraction bend and guide a beam of light in unconventional ways—an effect that could be exploited to make perfect lenses. The search for candidate negative-index materials has identified multilayers of high-temperature superconductors as a possibility. Because these materials are anisotropic, the sign of the electrical permittivity (or, more specifically, elements of the permittivity tensor) can change over a certain frequency range, which opens the possibility for negative-index refraction.

Writing in Physical Review Letters, Vladislav Golick and colleagues at Kharkov University in the Ukraine, in collaboration with scientists in the Ukraine, Russia, Japan, and the US, calculate dispersion curves for so-called “surface Josephson-plasma waves” in layered superconductors. They find a branch of these waves above the Josephson plasma frequency, displaying abnormal surface mode behavior. They also identify a window of THz frequencies (above the plasma frequency) where the permittivities switch signs to produce negative-index refraction. At higher frequencies, their model predicts that light incident through a high-index, transparent medium would be completely refracted (no reflection) inside the layered superconductor.

When the superconductor-layer width is below the free path of the surface waves, the refracted waves could be emitted from the edge of the superconductor in the form of a highly collimated beam. With a magnetic field applied parallel to the layers, it should be possible to modulate this channeling effect to make fast switching shutters and mirrors for guiding light. –Saad E. Hebboul


Features

More Features »

Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

OpticsSuperconductivity

Previous Synopsis

Biological Physics

Hidden epidemic

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Related Articles

Focus: Twisted Light in a Photonic Chip
Optics

Focus: Twisted Light in a Photonic Chip

Light waves capable of storing quantum information can propagate through a photonic chip waveguide and potentially be used for on-chip computation. Read More »

Focus: Computing with Wi-Fi Waves
Optics

Focus: Computing with Wi-Fi Waves

Experiments demonstrate that a room in a house or office building could act as an analog computer processing the microwaves used for Wi-Fi. Read More »

Synopsis: Laser Light Cools Propagating Sound Waves
Optics

Synopsis: Laser Light Cools Propagating Sound Waves

An optomechanical scheme selectively dampens sound waves traveling in a centimeter-long optical waveguide. Read More »

More Articles