New frontiers in microwave metamaterials : magnetic-free non-reciprocal devices based on angular-momentum-biasing and negative-index metawaveguides




Estep, Nicholas Aaron

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In this work, metamaterial concepts are applied to improve the design and realization of microwave components of a new generation. Conventional radiation sources, despite the mature and efficient development over the past century, maintain fundamental limitations. Slow-wave structures, such as backward-wave oscillators and traveling-wave tubes, function on the order of several operational wavelengths, leading to bulky architectures. Cherenkov radiation-based detectors are constrained to forward propagation, where the detection or diagnostic scheme may be damaged by energetic particles. Metamaterial concepts, specifically negative-index structures, provide new opportunities for these applications. In this context, we developed a detailed design of a negative-index metamaterial conducive to microwave generation. We experimentally validated a negative-index waveguide based on patterned plates of complementary split ring resonators. The design is conducive to interaction between particles and waves; it maintains a scalable negative-index band along with a longitudinal electric field component for particle interaction. The sub-wavelength resonant nature of the metamaterial allows for a compact design. In a different field of research, there is also significant need to squeeze the dimensions of microwave components. We have developed magnet-less, non-reciprocal, microwave circulators based on angular-momentum-biasing, which allow the realization of non-reciprocal devices that do not require magnets, and therefore lead to cheaper, lighter and significantly smaller devices. Angular-momentum-biasing, theoretically proposed recently in our research group, effectively mimics the collective alignment of electron spins seen in a ferromagnetic medium under a magnetic bias. Through spatiotemporal modulation, one can generate electrical rotation, leading to strong nonreciprocal response without magnetism. We have experimentally proven the theory on lumped element circulators and proposed transmission-line variations, providing over 50 dB of isolation in a range of frequency bands. This method provides efficient, easily tunable, fully integrable, compact devices that may revolutionize the future of integrated components. We have developed rigorous design principles that not only provide guidance for designs based on desired performance metrics, but also proves the passive nature of the concept. Furthermore, we have crafted mechanisms to enhance the bandwidth performance and improve linearity.


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