Wang J J, Zhu Q H, Dong J F. Research progress of electromagnetic properties of tunable chiral metasurfaces[J]. Opto-Electron Eng, 2021, 48(2): 200218. doi: 10.12086/oee.2021.200218
Citation: Wang J J, Zhu Q H, Dong J F. Research progress of electromagnetic properties of tunable chiral metasurfaces[J]. Opto-Electron Eng, 2021, 48(2): 200218. doi: 10.12086/oee.2021.200218

Research progress of electromagnetic properties of tunable chiral metasurfaces

    Fund Project: National Natural Science Foundation of China (61475079)
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  • Chiral metasurfaces are ultra-thin metamaterials composed of planar chiral cell structures with specific electromagnetic responses. They have attracted great attention due to their singular ability to control electromagnetic waves at will. With tunable materials incorporated into the metasurfaces design, one can realize tunable/reconfigurable metadevices with functionalities controlled by external stimuli, opening a new platform to dynamically manipulate electromagnetic waves. In this paper, we introduce some theoretical foundations of the electromagnetic properties of tunable/reconfigurable chiral metasurfaces. When a linearly polarized light enters a tunable chiral metasurface, it can be decomposed into left-handed circularly polarized (LCP) wave and right-handed circularly polarized (RCP) wave. By changing the dielectric constant and magnetic permeability of the medium through the external environment, the metadevices can dynamically control the response characteristics to various polarized lights, especially circularly polarized lights such as refractive index, dichroism, optical rotation, asymmetric transmission, etc. According to the properties of negative refractive index, circular dichroism, optical rotation, and asymmetric transmission controlled by the tunable chiral metasurfaces, we review the latest research progress. Finally, we put forward our own opinions on the possible future development directions and existing challenges of the rapidly developing field of the tunable chiral metasurface.

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  • Overview: Chiral metasurfaces composed of planar chiral cell structures have negative refractive index, circular dichroism, optical rotation, asymmetric transmission, and other electromagnetic properties. With simple structure, they are easy to be miniaturized and integrated. In recent years, they have become a research hotspot in the field of optical application devices such as information, national defense, energy, super-resolved imaging, holographic display, sensing, polarizer, and switch.

    The basic materials of chiral metasurfaces are metal materials, metal-dielectric mixed materials, and all dielectric materials. With the rapid development of chiral metasurfaces research, the optical properties of chiral metasurfaces have been extensively studied. However, the current chiral metadevices lack tunability, and once they are designed and manufactured, their electromagnetic properties and functions will also be fixed and cannot be used in the field of dynamically changing optoelectronics. Therefore, it is necessary to add new tunable materials such as phase-change materials (VO2, Ge2Sb1Te4), graphene, single-layer black scale, liquid crystal, semiconductors, polymers, etc. Through heat, light, electricity and other external factors to induce the change of the dielectric constant and permeability of the medium, so as to achieve the tuning effect of the electromagnetic characteristics. These new tunable materials greatly enrich the modeling of chiral metasurfaces, providing more effective methods for theoretical analysis of unique electromagnetic and optical properties, and also providing a new research platform for electromagnetism, optics, physics, and nanoscience.

    In this review, we describe the research progress of several common tunable chiral metasurfaces in recent years. The first one is the negative refractive index tunable chiral metasurfaces, which experimentally show that the negative refractive index can be adjustable in wide band. The second one is the chiral metasurfaces with tunable circular dichroism and optical rotation. The dynamic regulation of internal and external chiral metasurfaces based on circular dichroism and optical rotation is introduced in detail, which can realize the functional tuning of polarization conversion, circular dichroism switch, quarter wave plate, and reflector. It is divided into phase change materials, graphene, and other tunable materials according to the tunable materials. The optical properties of phase-change materials vary only with the phase transition and have a very fast phase transition speed. Graphene has high electrical conductivity, wide band electro-optical properties, and stable chemical resistance, and the circular dichroism and optical rotation can be changed by adjusting the Fermi energy level of graphene. Finally, a tunable chiral metasurface with asymmetric transmission is introduced. Among them, the discovery of the tunable all-dielectric chiral metasurfaces provides a possibility to solve the problem of low efficiency and high loss of the metal materials, which can be applied to more fields.

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