The electromagnetic properties of most ordinary material is described by their refractive index, which can be used for studying wave propagation. In recent years, this concept has been extended so that artificially created micro and nano structures can be made small enough that they can also be described using effective index of refraction. The advantage of these structures is that they can demonstrate exotic behaviour not found in the optical properties of natural materials, including negative refraction, perfect lensing, backward waves, optical rotation, strongly nonlinear properties, highly tunable structures and many more.
Depending on the length of your project (honours, masters or PhD), you could include one or more of the following elements in your project:
- Theoretical modelling: The exotic properties of metamaterials mean that waves propagating in them can exhibit a range of interesting new properties. Examples include creating materials which combine strong nonlinearity with unusual dispersion characteristics, or "transformation optics", which make the wave behave as though space has been transformed.
- Numerical simulation: The design of metamaterials for experiments usually requires CAD modelling with advanced electromagnetic simulation software. This also shows how many exotic properties emerge in these systems.
- Microwave experiments: We have a well equipped laboratory for creating and measuring microwave and terahertz structures. Due to the larger size of these waves, it makes many experiments feasible which are much harder to do at shorter wavelengths.
- Interaction between electromagnetic and mechanical effects: Metamaterial concepts are also applicable to to mechanical and acoustic systems. Many interesting effects arise when combining both types of dynamics.