PerspectivePhysics

Only Skin Deep

Science  06 Aug 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5685, pp. 785-786
DOI: 10.1126/science.1102271

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Summary

By fabricating structured materials, researchers have been able to modify and control the interactions of light and matter. In their Perspective, Barnes and Sambles discuss theoretical predictions reported in the same issue by Pendry et al. which suggest that new electromagnetic modes may be engineered into a metallic surface. Normally at microwave frequencies, metals are close to ideal reflectors and electromagnetic fields hardly penetrate. Pendry et al., claim that if holes of the right size and spacing are drilled into the surface, the fields can penetrate enough to create new surface modes. This idea, which may be extended up to ultraviolet frequencies, may lead to a whole new class of surface metamaterials with a wide range of potential applications.