Optical activity in planar chiral metamaterials: Theoretical study
A thorough theoretical study of the optical activity in planar chiral metamaterial (PCM) structures, made of both dielectric and metallic media, is conducted by the analysis of gammadion-shaped nanoparticle arrays. The general polarization properties are first analyzed from an effective-medium perspective, by analogy with natural optical activity, and then verified by rigorous numerical simulation, some of which are corroborated by previous experimental results. The numerical analysis suggests that giant polarization rotation (tens of degrees) may be achieved in the PCM structures with a thickness of only hundreds of nanometers. The artificial optical activity arises from circular birefringence induced by the structural chirality and is enhanced by the guided-mode or surface-plasmon resonances taking place in the structures. There are two polarization conversion types in the dielectric PCMs, whereas only one type in the metallic ones. Many intriguing features of the polarization property of PCMs are also revealed and explained: the polarization effect is reciprocal and vanishes in the symmetrically layered structures; the effect occurs only in the transmitted field, but not in the reflected field; and the polarization spectra of two enantiomeric PCM structures are mirror symmetric to each other. These remarkable properties pave the way for the PCMs to be used as polarization elements in new-generation integrated optical systems.