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Nat Mater. 2009 Aug;8(8):639-42. doi: 10.1038/nmat2489. Epub 2009 Jun 28.

An omnidirectional retroreflector based on the transmutation of dielectric singularities.

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  • 1Temasek Laboratories, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260, Singapore.


Transformation optics is a concept used in some metamaterials to guide light on a predetermined path. In this approach, the materials implement coordinate transformations on electromagnetic waves to create the illusion that the waves are propagating through a virtual space. Transforming space by appropriately designed materials makes devices possible that have been deemed impossible. In particular, transformation optics has led to the demonstration of invisibility cloaking for microwaves, surface plasmons and infrared light. Here, on the basis of transformation optics, we implement a microwave device that would normally require a dielectric singularity, an infinity in the refractive index. To fabricate such a device, we transmute a dielectric singularity in virtual space into a mere topological defect in a real metamaterial. In particular, we demonstrate an omnidirectional retroreflector, a device for faithfully reflecting images and for creating high visibility from all directions. Our method is robust, potentially broadband and could also be applied to visible light using similar techniques.

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