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Light is in a sense "one-handed" when interacting with atoms of conventional
materials. This is because out of the two field components of light, electric
and magnetic, only the electric "hand" efficiently probes the atoms of a
material, whereas the magnetic component remains relatively unused because the
interaction of atoms with the magnetic field component of light is normally
weak. Metamaterials, i.e. artificial materials with rationally designed
properties, can enable the coupling of both of the field components of light to
meta-atoms, enabling entirely new optical properties and exciting applications
with such "two-handed" light. Among the fascinating properties is a negative
refractive index. The refractive index is one of the most fundamental
characteristics of light propagation in materials. Metamaterials with negative
refraction may lead to the development of a superlens capable of imaging
objects and their fine structures that are much smaller than the wavelength of
light. Other exciting applications of metamaterials include novel antennae with
superior properties, optical nano-lithography and nano-circuits, and
"meta-coatings" that can make objects invisible. The word "meta" means "beyond"
in Greek, and in this sense the name "metamaterials" refers to "beyond
conventional materials." Metamaterials are typically man-made and have
properties not available in nature. What is so magical about this simple
merging of "meta" and "materials" that has attracted so much attention from
researchers and has resulted in exponential growth in the number of
publications in this area? The answer you can find in this book.