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Nat Mater. 2006 Feb;5(2):93-6. Epub 2006 Jan 15.

Achieving centimetre-scale supercollimation in a large-area two-dimensional photonic crystal.

Author information

1
rakich@mit.edu

Abstract

Diffraction, a fundamental process in wave physics, leads to spreading of the optical beams as they propagate. However, new photonic crystal (PhC) meta-materials can be nano-engineered to generate extreme anisotropy, resulting in apparent propagation of light without diffraction. This surprising phenomenon, called supercollimation, effectively freezes the spatial width of a light beam inside a PhC, observed over a few isotropic diffraction-lengths. However, using such experiments to predict the behaviour for longer propagation lengths is difficult, as a tiny error in a measured width can extrapolate to order unity uncertainty in the width at distances over hundreds of diffraction-lengths. Here, supercollimation is demonstrated in a macroscopic PhC system over centimetre-scale distances, retaining spatial width confinement without the need for waveguides or nonlinearities. Through quantitative studies of the beam evolution in a two-dimensional PhC, we find that supercollimation possesses unexpected but inherent robustness with respect to short-scale disorder such as fabrication roughness, enabling supercollimation over 600 isotropic diffraction-lengths. The effects of disorder are identified through experiments and understood through rigorous simulations. In addition, a supercollimation steering capability is proposed.

PMID:
16415874
DOI:
10.1038/nmat1568
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