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Negative refraction gets visible

  August 18/25, 2008
Materials that bend light backward are a major step toward being able to see DNA and viruses -- objects too small for today's optical microscopes. Silver nanowires embedded in aluminum bend visible light the wrong way. Nanoscale mash patterns cut into alternating ultrathin layers of silver and magnesium fluoride produce the same effect in the near-infrared range.

These negative index of refraction metamaterials also bring invisibility cloaks closer to reality. Previous negative index of refraction metamaterials have worked just in the microwave and infrared light ranges.

Research papers:
Optical Negative Refraction in Bulk Metamaterials of Nanowires
Science, August 15, 2008
Three-Dimensional Optical Metamaterial with a Negative Refractive Index
Nature, published online August 11, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Xiang Zhang's Research Lab
Angelica Stacy

Related stories and briefs:
Crystal bends light back -- a previous negative of index of refraction material

Further info:
View from the High Ground: ICL's John Pendry -- an interview with the inventor of negative index of refraction materials

Back to TRN August 18/25, 2008

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