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Optical Response in Planar Heterostructures: From Artificial Magnetism to Angstrom-Scale Metamaterials


Papadakis, Georgia Theano (2018) Optical Response in Planar Heterostructures: From Artificial Magnetism to Angstrom-Scale Metamaterials. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z97H1GS1.


The idea of expanding the range of properties of natural substances with artificial matter was introduced by V. G. Veselago in 1967. Since then, the field of metamaterials has dramatically advanced. Man-made structures can now exhibit a plethora of extraordinary electromagnetic properties, such as negative refraction, optical magnetism, and super-resolution imaging. Typical metamaterial motifs include split ring resonators, dielectric and plasmonic particles, fishnet and wire arrays. The principle of operation of these elements is now well-understood, and they are being exploited for practical applications on a global scale, ranging from telecommunications to sensing and biomedicine, in the radio frequency and terahertz domains. Accessing and controlling optical and near-infrared phenomena requires scaling down the dimensions of meta- materials to the nanometer regime, pushing the limits of state-of-the-art nano- lithography and requiring structurally less complex geometries. Hence, within the last decade, research in metamaterials has revisited a simpler, lithography- free structure, particularly planar arrangements of alternating metal and dielectric layers, termed hyperbolic metamaterials. Such media are readily realizable with well-established thin-film deposition techniques. They support a rich canvas of properties ranging from surface plasmonic propagation to negative refraction, and they can enhance the photoluminescence properties of quantum emitters at any frequency range.

Here, we introduce a computational approach that allows tailoring the dielectric and magnetic effective properties of planar metamaterials. Previously, planar hyperbolic metamaterials have been considered non-magnetic. In contrast, we show theoretically and experimentally that planar arrangements com- posed of non-magnetic constituents can be engineered to exhibit a non-trivial magnetic response. This realization simplifies the structural requirements for tailoring optical magnetism up to very high frequencies. It also provides access to previously unexplored phenomena, for example artificially magnetic plasmons, for which we perform an analysis on the basis of available materials for achieving polarization-insensitive surface wave propagation. By combining the concept of metamaterials’ homogenization with previous transfer matrix approaches, we develop a general computational method for surface waves calculations that is free of previous assumptions, for example infinite or purely periodic media. Furthermore, we theoretically demonstrate that hyperbolic metamaterials can be dynamically tunable via carrier injection through external bias, using transparent conductive oxides and graphene, at visible and infrared frequencies, respectively. Lastly, we demonstrate that planar graphene-based van der Waals heterostructures behave effectively as supermetals, exhibiting reflective properties that surpass the reflectivity of gold and silver that are currently considered the state-of-the-art materials for mirroring applications in space applications. The (meta)materials we introduce exhibit an order-of-magnitude lower mass density, making them suitable candidates for future light-sail technologies intended for space exploration.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:metamaterials; photonics; plasmonics; hyperbolic metamaterial; surface plasmon polariton; surface phonon polariton; transparent conductive oxide; graphene; van der Waals; spectroscopic ellipsometry; artificial optical magnetism
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Awards:1. TomKat postdoctoral fellowship in Sustainability, Stanford University, CA, 2018 2. Marie Curie Individual postdoctoral fellowship, 2018 3. Best Student Paper, Metamaterials 2016 10th International Congress Metamaterials’ 2016, Greece ( 4. Outstanding Poster Award, Metamaterials Science & Technology Workshop, Center for Metamaterials & Integrated Plasmonics, University of California San Diego, CA, 2015 5. Best Poster Award, Spring Material Research Society (MRS) Meeting (, Boston, MA, 2014
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Thesis Committee:
  • Vahala, Kerry J. (chair)
  • Faraon, Andrei
  • Daraio, Chiara
  • Schwab, Keith C.
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Defense Date:23 February 2018
Non-Caltech Author Email:georgia.papadakis88 (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
American Association for University Women Dissertation FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Northrop Grumman CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03082018-161639906
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Ch. 5 adapted for Ch. 5 adapted for Ch. 2 adapted for Ch. 6 adapted for Ch. 3
Papadakis, Georgia Theano0000-0001-8107-9221
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10764
Deposited By: Georgia Theano Papadakis
Deposited On:09 Mar 2018 18:30
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

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