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Isotropic dielectric-magnetic mediums wherein the phase velocity vector and the time-averaged Poynting vector of propagating plane waves are oppositely directed have recently become the focus of research on microwave composite materials. The purpose of this overview is to illuminate the background of rapidly occurring developments, to present a clear theoretical foundation of the involved effects, and to clarify some of the confusion—such as regarding terminology—that has arisen in the research literature. Furthermore, a general condition for the particular effect of negative phase-velocity to occur is given; and ramifications for perfect lenses, homogenization approaches, and complex mediums are presented.
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