Wave propagation in media having negative permittivity and permeability

Richard W. Ziolkowski, Ehud Heyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wave propagation in a double negative (DNG) medium, i.e., a medium having negative permittivity and negative permeability, is studied both analytically and numerically. The choices of the square root that leads to the index of refraction and the wave impedance in a DNG medium are determined by imposing analyticity in the complex frequency domain, and the corresponding wave properties associated with each choice are presented. These monochromatic concepts are then tested critically via a one-dimensional finite difference time domain (FDTD) simulation of the propagation of a causal, pulsed plane wave in a matched, lossy Drude model DNG medium. The causal responses of different spectral regimes of the medium with positive or negative refractive indices are studied by varying the carrier frequency of narrowband pulse excitations. The smooth transition of the phenomena associated with a DNG medium from its early-time nondispersive behavior to its late-time monochromatic response is explored with wideband pulse excitations. These FDTD results show conclusively that the square root choice leading to a negative index of refraction and positive wave impedance is the correct one, and that this choice is consistent with the overall causality of the response. An analytical, exact frequency domain solution to the scattering of a wave from a DNG slab is also given and is used to characterize several physical effects. This solution is independent of the choice of the square roots for the index of refraction and the wave impedance, and thus avoids any controversy that may arise in connection with the signs of these constituents. The DNG slab solution is used to critically examine the perfect lens concept suggested recently by Pendry. It is shown that the perfect lens effect exists only under the special case of a DNG medium with [formula presented] that is both lossless and nondispersive. Otherwise, the closed form solutions for the field structure reveal that the DNG slab converts an incident spherical wave into a localized beam field whose parameters depend on the values of [formula presented] and [formula presented] This beam field is characterized with a paraxial approximation of the exact DNG slab solution. These monochromatic concepts are again explored numerically via a causal two-dimensional FDTD simulation of the scattering of a pulsed cylindrical wave by a matched, lossy Drude model DNG slab. These FDTD results demonstrate conclusively that the monochromatic electromagnetic power flow through the DNG slab is channeled into beams rather then being focused and, hence, the Pendry perfect lens effect is not realizable with any realistic metamaterial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056625
Pages (from-to)056625/1-056625/15
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2001


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