Quantum optical effective-medium theory for loss-compensated metamaterials

Ehsan Amooghorban, N. Asger Mortensen, Martijn Wubs

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A central aim in metamaterial research is to engineer subwavelength unit cells that give rise to desired effective-medium properties and parameters, such as a negative refractive index. Ideally one can disregard the details of the unit cell and employ the effective description instead. A popular strategy to compensate for the inevitable losses in metallic components of metamaterials is to add optical gain material. Here we study the quantum optics of such loss-compensated metamaterials at frequencies for which effective parameters can be unambiguously determined. We demonstrate that the usual effective parameters are insufficient to describe the propagation of quantum states of light. Furthermore, we propose a quantum optical effective-medium theory instead and show that it correctly predicts the properties of the light emerging from loss-compensated metamaterials. © 2013 American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)153602
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Quantum optics
  • Quantum theory
  • Refractive index
  • Seismic waves
  • Metamaterials


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