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Prof Sir John Pendry, Imperial College

Controlling THz radiation with graphene


John Pendry has made seminal contributions to surface science, disordered systems and photonics. His most recent work has introduced a new class of materials, metamaterials, whose electromagnetic properties depend on their internal structure rather than their chemical constitution.

Pendry discovered that a ‘perfect lens’ manufactured from negatively refracting material would circumvent Abbé’s diffraction limit to spatial resolution, which has stood for more than a century. His innovation of ‘transformation optics’ gives the metamaterial specifications required to rearrange electromagnetic field configurations at will, by representing the field distortions as a warping of the space in which they exist.

In its simplest form the theory shows how we can direct field lines around a given obstacle and thus provide a ‘cloak of invisibility’, which was first realised at Duke in 2006. His latest work concerns application of transformation optics to plasmonic systems.


When graphene is doped to give a finite conductivity, it supports plasmons in the THz regime. Although these do not couple directly to external radiation, coupling can be induced by forming a grating in the graphene of a suitable period and thus produce very strong absorption of radiation but typically over a narrow band of frequencies.

Here I shall show that a suitably engineered metasurface can result in strong absorption over a wide range of THz frequencies. The effect has the potential to be switched at GHz rates.

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12 February 2018
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