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Proceedings Paper

Geometric-optical studies for metamaterial representations of curved spacetime
Author(s): Tom H. Anderson; Tom G. Mackay; Akhlesh Lakhtakia
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Paper Abstract

Metamaterials offer opportunities to explore curved-spacetime scenarios which would otherwise be impractical or impossible to study. These opportunities arise from the formal analogy that exists between light propagation in vacuous curved spacetime and in a certain nonhomogeneous bianisotropic medium, called a Tamm medium. As the science and technology of nanostructured metamaterials continues its rapid development, the practical realization of Tamm mediums is edging ever closer. We considered two particular curved spacetimes associated with: (a) spinning cosmic strings, and (b) the Alcubierre drive. For both examples, a Tamm medium formulation was developed which is asymptotically identical to vacuum and is therefore amenable to physical realization. A study of ray trajectories for both Tamm mediums was undertaken, within the geometric optics regime. For the spinning cosmic string, it was observed that: (i) rays do not cross the string's boundary; (ii) evanescent waves are supported in regions of phase space that correspond to those regions of the string's spacetime wherein closed timelike curves may arise; and (iii) a non-spinning string is nearly invisible whereas a spinning string may be rather more visible. For the Alcubierre drive, it was observed that: (i) ray trajectories are highly sensitive to the magnitude and direction of the warp bubble's velocity, but less sensitive to the thickness of the transition zone between the warp bubble and its background; and (ii) the warp bubble acts as a focusing lens for rays which travel in the same direction as the bubble, especially at high speeds.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 September 2011
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 8093, Metamaterials: Fundamentals and Applications IV, 80931N (9 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.892522
Show Author Affiliations
Tom H. Anderson, The Univ. of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
Tom G. Mackay, The Univ. of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)
The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)
Akhlesh Lakhtakia, The Pennsylvania State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8093:
Metamaterials: Fundamentals and Applications IV
Allan D. Boardman; Nader Engheta; Mikhail A. Noginov; Nikolay I. Zheludev, Editor(s)

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