Giant optical activity in dielectric planar metamaterials with two-dimensional chirality

W. Zhang*, A. Potts, D. M. Bagnall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


For the first time, all-dielectric planar chiral metamaterials consisting of arrays of silicon nitride gammadions on fused silica substrates have been fabricated, and shown to be capable of inducing large changes to the polarization states of transmitted light in a manner that is dependent on the two-dimensional chirality of the microstructured silicon nitride film. The polarization response is found to reverse for opposite enantiomers, and also for the same enantiomer when it is illuminated from opposite sides of the structure. In addition, the polarization states of the various diffracted beams are found to be non-reversible. These structures therefore appear to display elements of non-reciprocal behaviour. The polarization responses of complementary designs, different chiral geometries and various silicon nitride film thicknesses have also been studied. As a result we conclude that multiple reflections within the patterned silicon nitride layer play an important role in defining the mechanism by which these structures are able to modify the polarization states of diffracted light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-890
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • planar chirality
  • metamaterials
  • polarization eigenstates
  • reciprocity


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