“Can visible light ever be manipulated so that it bends the wrong way?” asks Katharine Sanderson in Nature. She suggests that successfully reversing light by making a negative refraction material could open up the possibility of some rather futuristic devices, such as microscope lenses that can resolve objects smaller than the wavelength of light or the much-desired invisibility cloak.
Sanderson reveals that Jennifer Dionne and Henri Lezec, working in Harry Atwater’s group at Caltech have made a material with a negative refractive index for visible light. The findings were announced at Nanometa 2007 in Seefeld, Austria, but are yet to be peer-reviewed for publication.
The only caveat is that Dionne and Lezec have only demonstrated the effect with a two-dimensional system. Does that count as true negative refraction, asks Sanderson? She quotes Atwater as explaining the options of upgrading to 3D: “Atwater envisages stacking a dense array of waveguides on end: “We have not done this yet, but at least this work illustrates the inherent possibility of doing so.”
Let’s hope so, I really fancy one of those invisibility cloaks.