Elena Semouchkina (ECE/ICC), is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $337,217 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project is “Developing Anisotropic Media for Transformation Optics by Using Dielectric Photonic Crystals.” This is a three-year project.
Transformation optics (TO) is based on coordinate transformations, which require proper spatial dispersions of the media parameters. Such media force electromagnetic (EM) waves, moving in the original coordinate system, to behave as if they propagate in a transformed coordinate system. Thus TO introduces a new powerful technique for designing advanced EM devices with superior functionalities. Coordinate transformations can be derived for compressing, expanding, bending, or twisting space, enabling designs of invisibility cloaks, field concentrators, perfect lenses, beam shifters, etc., that may bring advances to various areas of human life. Realization of these devices depends on the possibility of creating media with prescribed EM properties, in particular, directional refractive indices to provide wave propagation with superluminal phase velocities and high refractive indices in the normal direction to cause wave movement along curvilinear paths. Originally, artificial metamaterials (MMs) composed of tiny metallic resonators were chosen for building transformation media. However, a number of serious challenges were encountered, such as extremely narrow frequency band of operation and the high losses in metal elements. The proposed approach is to use dielectric photonic crystals to overcome these major limitations of MM media. This project will allow graduate and undergraduate students, especially women in engineering, to participate in theoretical and experimental EM research. Outreach activities include lectures and hands-on projects in several youth programs to K-12 students.