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Nonlinear Metamaterials Incubator

30 September - 2 October 2015
OSA Headquarters, 2010 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC, USA

Hosted by
Natalia LitchinitserState University of New York at Buffalo, United States

Program Overview

The possibility of designing the optical nonlinear response of metamaterials at the level of the individual meta-atom opens up a whole new way to obtain materials with a large, fast, and broadband nonlinear response. To date, most studies of enhanced nonlinear response in designed materials have essentially exploited strong local field enhancements enabled by plasmonic nanostructures. The purpose of this Incubator, partially funded by ARO, is to explore methods to create materials with enhanced nonlinear coefficients by using the fundamental design parameters available in meta-atoms and metamaterials. Its goal will be to establish new directions for the development and testing of these new optical metamaterials.


For decades, scientists have been exploring ways of creating materials with a large, fast, and broadband nonlinear response. Some success in this area has been achieved in the microwave frequency range, but designing and fabricating such materials in the optical frequency range would revolutionize nonlinear optics, leading to low-power, compact, and ultra-fast applications of nonlinear optical phenomena. The emergence of metamaterials has a potential to provide a breakthrough in the development of such materials. By selecting certain 'building block materials' and rationally designing them on a scale of nanometers, it should be possible to create composite electromagnetic media with properties vastly different from their individual constituents and suitable for the realization of certain functionalities.
Since it has already been demonstrated that linear optical properties, such as dielectric permittivity, magnetic permeability, and refractive index of metamaterials can be designed to be positive, negative or even zero at any selected frequency by properly adjusting the dimensions, periodicity and other properties of the so-called meta-atoms (the unit cells of metamaterials), it is expected that designs can also be achieved that will transform the nonlinear properties of metamaterials. Indeed, the nonlinear properties of conventional materials are limited by the properties of their constituent components-atoms and molecules. The rapidly growing field of metamaterials opens unprecedented opportunities to overcome those limitations.

Featured Topics/Questions

  • Physical reasons for the limited nonlinear response of existing natural and artificial structures?

  • What is the path to overcome these limitations and create highly nonlinear materials with a good figure of merit?

  • How can we design meta-atoms that would produce optical materials with large nonlinearities and good figure of merit?

  • Novel applications that would be enabled by such matematerials-based highly nonlinear structures.





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