Purdue University Graduate School
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Dielectric Anisotropy and Optical Transitions.pdf

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posted on 2022-10-26, 13:28 authored by Sanjay Debnath

Similar to thermodynamic phase transitions in matter, readily apparent changes in optical response arise in the transition from isotropic to anisotropic optical phases. Treating the anisotropy of the dielectric permittivity as a control parameter, which changes continuously from zero to a nonzero finite value at the transition, in this work we describe the resulting effect on light propagation. 

We begin by investigating a simple case of the manifestations of such optical transition in lossy media. In the presence of loss, isotropic materials do not support Brewster phenomenon, however, if one changes the anisotropy continuously, the exact zero in the reflection at the Brewster incidence angle is recovered. Next, in the case of uniaxial anisotropy, we uncover dramatic changes in far-field thermal radiation induced by the transitions between metal, dielectric, and hyperbolic optical regimes that can be observed in the same material. We demonstrate that continuous evolution between different ''phases'' in the electromagnetic response imprints a characteristic signature in the far-field thermal emission. Finally, we show that the evolution of the optical anisotropy from uniaxial to biaxial symmetry brings qualitatively new optical modes which are different from the conventional propagating and evanescent fields. These emergent ''ghost'' waves offer a unique way to control mode interactions in optical systems. Our work uncovers the connection between the macroscopic properties of the optical materials and the transitions between different regimes of the electromagnetic response in these media. At last, we propose a range of potential applications of the resulting phenomena, from perfect absorption in lossy media to thermal radiation and optical sensing.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Evgenii E. Narimanov

Additional Committee Member 2

Andrew M. Weiner

Additional Committee Member 3

Alexandra Boltasseva

Additional Committee Member 4

Dan Jiao