Chirality is the incidence of a non-superposable mirror image, of which the human hands are the most common example.
Symmetry plays a very important role in molecular structure, as does handedness, which can determine the properties and structures of everything from proteins to lenses, according to how the molecules are arranged. Metamaterials are materials that have had their matter rearranged so they interact with light in specific ways, and though they are very tedious and expensive to design and build, metamaterials could revolutionize manufacturing, drug delivery, even communication.
University of Georgia researchers led by Yiping Zhao recently published three papers documenting a simple method to fabricate metamaterials that could lead to industrial-scale production. The first two studies appeared in the journal Nano Letters and the third in the March issue of Advanced Optical Materials.
Zhao is a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of physics and astronomy and director of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. His co-authors on the studies were research assistants George Larsen, Yizhuo He and Whitney Ingram.
"What we do in the lab is try to think about simple, scalable methods," said Larsen, who along with He is supported by the National Science Foundation. Ingram is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority Ph.D. Scholar and a Southern Regional Educational Board State Doctoral Scholar. "Metamaterials depend on good optical properties and precise arrangements, so our work interfaces with nanotechnology and microtechnology because we design these structures smaller than the wavelength of light."