Phase-transition optical activity in chiral metamaterials


Optical activity from chiral metamaterials is both fundamental in electrodynamics and useful for polarization control applications. It is normally expected that due to infinitesimally small thickness, two-dimensional (2D) planar metamaterials cannot introduce large optical rotations. Here, we present a new mechanism to achieve strong optical rotation up to 90° by evoking phase transition in the 2D metamaterials through tuning coupling strength between meta-atoms. We analytically elucidate such phenomenon by developing a model of phase-transition coupled-oscillator array. And we further corroborate our ideas with both numerical simulations and experiments. Our findings would pave a new way for applying the concept of phase transition in photonics for designing novel optical devices for strong polarization controls and other novel applications.