Transformation Optics

With metamaterials, unusual and extraordinary material properties can be created and manipulated with unprecedented flexibility and control. To harness these emerging capabilities, a new methodology was needed that would enable the rapid design of devices based on these complex materials. Working with collaborator Sir John Pendry (Imperial College, London), the Duke team has developed the technique of Transformation Optics, in which bending space with coordinate transformations is used as an intuitive means of creating unique devices. The now well-known “invisibility cloak” was the first example of a transformation optical device, first suggested by Pendry and the Duke team in 2006 [J. B. Pendry, D. Schurig, D. R. Smith, “Controlling electromagnetic fields,” Science 312, 1780 (2006)] and subsequently demonstrated at Duke [D. Schurig et al., “Metamaterial electromagnetic cloak at microwave frequencies,” Science 314, 977 (2006)]. Currently, Duke faculty have many projects related to Transformation Optics and cloaking, and have extended the concepts to many other branches of physics, including acoustics and fluid flow.