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10 September 2010 Gain in negative-index metamaterials and slow-light waveguides
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We investigate on the basis of a full three-dimensional spatio-temporal Maxwell-Bloch approach the possibility of complete loss compensation in non-bianisotropic negative refractive index (NRI) metamaterials. We show that a judicious incorporation of optically pumped gain materials, such as laser dyes, into a double-fishnet metamaterial can enable gain in the regime where the real part n of the resulting effective refractive index (n = n + in) is negative. It is demonstrated that a frequency band exists for realistic opto-geometric and material (gain/loss) parameters where n < 0 and simultaneously n < 0 hold, resulting in a figure-of-merit that diverges at two distinct frequency points. Having ensured on the microscopic, meta-molecular level that realistic levels of losses and even gain are accessible in the considered optical frequency regime we explore the possibility of compensating propagation losses in a negative refractive index slow-light metamaterial heterostructure. The heterostructure is composed of a negative refractive index core-layer bounded symmetrically by two thin active cladding layers providing evanescent gain to the propagating slow light pulses. It is shown that backward-propagating light - having anti-parallel phase and group velocities and experiencing a negative effective refractive index - can be amplified inside this slow-light waveguide structure. Our results provide a direct and unambiguous proof that full compensation of losses and attainment of gain are possible on the microscopic as well as the macroscopic level in the regime where the non-bianisotropic refractive index is negative - including, in particular, the regime where the guided light propagates slowly.
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S. Wuestner, E. I. Kirby, A. Pusch, K. L. Tsakmakidis, J. M. Hamm, and O. Hess "Gain in negative-index metamaterials and slow-light waveguides", Proc. SPIE 7754, Metamaterials: Fundamentals and Applications III, 775414 (10 September 2010);

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