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Nature. 2006 Nov 30;444(7119):597-600.

Active terahertz metamaterial devices.

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Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Materials Physics & Applications Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.


The development of artificially structured electromagnetic materials, termed metamaterials, has led to the realization of phenomena that cannot be obtained with natural materials. This is especially important for the technologically relevant terahertz (1 THz = 10(12) Hz) frequency regime; many materials inherently do not respond to THz radiation, and the tools that are necessary to construct devices operating within this range-sources, lenses, switches, modulators and detectors-largely do not exist. Considerable efforts are underway to fill this 'THz gap' in view of the useful potential applications of THz radiation. Moderate progress has been made in THz generation and detection; THz quantum cascade lasers are a recent example. However, techniques to control and manipulate THz waves are lagging behind. Here we demonstrate an active metamaterial device capable of efficient real-time control and manipulation of THz radiation. The device consists of an array of gold electric resonator elements (the metamaterial) fabricated on a semiconductor substrate. The metamaterial array and substrate together effectively form a Schottky diode, which enables modulation of THz transmission by 50 per cent, an order of magnitude improvement over existing devices.

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