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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Jun 25;104(25):253902. Epub 2010 Jun 22.

Asymmetric transmission of linearly polarized light at optical metamaterials.

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Institute of Condensed Matter Theory and Solid State Optics, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Max-Wien-Platz 1, D-07743 Jena, Germany.


We experimentally demonstrate a three-dimensional chiral optical metamaterial that exhibits an asymmetric transmission for forwardly and backwardly propagating linearly polarized light. The observation of this novel effect requires a metamaterial composed of three-dimensional chiral meta-atoms without any rotational symmetry. Our analysis is supported by a systematic investigation of the transmission matrices for arbitrarily complex, generally lossy media that allows deriving a simple criterion for asymmetric transmission in an arbitrary polarization base. Contrary to physical intuition, in general the polarization eigenstates in such three-dimensional and low-symmetry metamaterials do not obey fixed relations and the associated transmission matrices cannot be symmetrized.

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