Benefiting from advancement of micro and nanofabrication tools, the research in metamaterials has been recently extended from microwave to terahertz and optical frequencies. The scale-down of metamaterials to meet optical frequencies, paves the way for a new class of metamaterials, namely quantum metamaterials, which could have a profound impact on a broad range of applications in telecommunication, optical imaging, energy harvesting, health care, and homeland security. However, further breakthrough in the field of optical metamaterials is hindered by several factors: (1) the capability of current top-down fabrication techniques to engineer structures at a few nanometers scale; (2) lack of long range ordering by using the bottom up nanofabrication approaches; (3) optical loss in the metal-based optical metamaterials; (4) lack of optical control at low photon levels in optical metamaterials. In this project, scientists aim to solve the above issues by combining top-down and bottom-up nanofabrication techniques for the manufacturing of optical metamaterials, and by extending metamaterials to the quantum regime to reduce the loss and to introduce novel optical control schemes that go beyond classical metamaterials. This project combines synergistically three collaborators, two in the UK and one in the US, to investigate the fabrication, characterization and modeling of novel classical and quantum optical metamaterials. The central rationale for this collaborative group is that it matches a UK group with expertise in large scale nanofabrication, a UK group in demonstrated theoretical capabilities in nonlinear optics, with a US group with demonstrated record of various optical characterization techniques.

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Metamaterials are man-made materials that mimic the order of the matters. Metamaterials consist of artificially engineered "atoms" and "molecules", which can be designed to show optical properties unattainable from naturally occurring materials. Metamaterials present a novel platform for controlling light at one's will with potential applications such as a powerful imaging lens that beats the imaging diffraction limit and an invisibility cloak that renders object invisible to outside observers. By introducing a novel nanofabrication paradigm, this collaborative project aims at solving the issues that hinder the practical application of metamaterials, and bridging the gap between the proof-of-concept demonstrations in the laboratory to real world applications. The research to be undertaken here has several areas of broad impact. First, it will foster an interdisciplinary examination of the fundamental materials science, which includes fabrication, materials physics, optical physics, and theory. Second it will enable three groups in the US and the UK, with a strong history of interactions and complementary expertise and capabilities to collaborate. This work involves the opportunity for both graduate and undergraduate students to collaborate and travel in an international setting. Third, the program has concrete plans and procedures to seek out recruitment of diverse student collaborators. Fourth, the project enables students to collaborate via extended visits and shorter trips with a major National Laboratory, i.e. Lawrence Berkeley Lab, where one of the PIs was an academic staff, as well as the London Centre for Nanotechnology, UK's premier nanofabrication facility shared by the University College London and Imperial College London.

This project is supported by the Electronic and Photonic Materials program and Office of Special Programs, Division of Materials Research.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Miriam Deutsch
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University of California Berkeley
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