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LETTER TO EDITOR

 

05/6/2008 - Metamaterials Physics and Engineering Explorations (2006)
by Nader Engheta and Richard W. Ziolkowski, editors


ISBN 10 0-471-76102-8. IEEE Press and Wiley Interscience, Piscataway, New Jersey and Hoboken, New Jersey. 2006. Hardcover. 414 pages. $100.00.

REVIEWED BY: Gary Vardon, Retired Chemist



Metamaterials Physics and Engineering Explorations, the book being reviewed, is well named. Metamaterials is edited by Nader Engheta and Richard W. Ziolkowski. Both the editors are professors of electrical engineering and their background shows in this edited work of fourteen chapters by numerous authors.

A metamaterial is an artificial material that can be made by putting inclusions in a host material to tailor the material’s refractive index. Many such objects have been researched. Some of this research is described. The designer of a metamaterial has a lot of room to be creative. He can vary the size, shape, arrangement, and composition of the inclusions in his choice of host. These materials can have both negative permittivity and permeability. This leads a material with a negative refractive index. The electrical properties of such materials are novel and are discussed in Metamaterials. Chapter nine discusses in depth the fabrication of these devices. One key concept is that media with periodically changing dielectric properties imposes periodic boundary conditions on propagating electromagnetic modes. Electromagnetic waves that do not satisfy these boundary conditions cannot propagate.

Sections of Metamaterials refer to Maxwell’s equations and the implications of these equations. Maxwell was known in his lifetime for his concise equations. These Maxwell equations and others in Metamaterials carry on this tradition and are cryptic. By this is meant that variables are not adequately explained to the non-professional reader, and the equations are mathematically complex and are hard to relate to in the physical work. The editors may well remark that this is the nature of the beast. In other words, they would argue that the interaction of electromagnetic waves with metamaterials requires complex equations to adequately explain and is thus an abstract subject. Certainly, a non-advanced reader can gloss over the equations and still get a great deal out of Metamaterials but that reader may feel that he is missing a lot of importance. One way that the reader can glean understanding about metamaterials without understanding all the underlying equations is to look at the finite difference time domain (FDTD) simulations. These are computer-generated pictures that show the interaction of waves and materials. An example graces the cover of Metamaterials. The index of this work lists where they are located and they are well worth viewing. The FDTD method is a numerical method that involves solving time-dependent Maxwell equations. This permits both the transient and the steady-state solutions to a system to be found. Other numerical techniques are also discussed in chapter eight.

Waveguide experiments have been used to characterize metamaterials. Chapters three and four are devoted to this topic. A comparison of theory and experiment is presented. Indeed, a sophisticated knowledge is needed to both do the experiments and to determine what theory predicates for complicated structures like metamaterials.

Metamaterials have practical applications in the microwave and low millimeter wave region. Uses include reflectors, electrically scanned phased arrays, precision global positioning systems, Bluetooth, mobile telephones, satellite communications, and antennas. Much of the later part of Metamaterials is devoted to an extensive, professional discussion of antennas and ground planes.

Metamaterials belongs in a complete electrical engineering research library in the section on fields, antennas, and electromagnetic waves. The book is suited for physicists, antenna designers, and those interested in complex electromagnetic wave theory and application. Perhaps Metamaterials can inspire brilliant new designs. Regardless, Metamaterials is not for the technophobe or the average freshman electrical engineering major.


For more on Metamaterials Physics and Engineering Explorations, visit the Wiley-IEEE Press web site.


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