Spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking in metamaterials
Mingkai Liu, David A. Powell, Ilya V. Shadrivov, Mikhail Lapine, and Yuri S. Kivshar,
Nat. Commun. 5, 5441-9 (2014).
| A chiral metamaterial which spontaneous switches between right-handed and left-handed states when illuminated by a high power wave. Read ANU Press release. |
Abstract: Spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking underpins a variety of areas such as subatomic physics and biochemistry, and leads to an impressive range of fundamental phenomena. Here we show that this prominent effect is now available in artificial electromagnetic systems, enabled by the advent of magnetoelastic metamaterials where a mechanical degree of freedom leads to a rich variety of strong nonlinear effects such as bistability and self-oscillations. We report spontaneous symmetry breaking in torsional chiral magnetoelastic structures where two or more meta-molecules with opposite handedness are electromagnetically coupled, modifying the system stability. Importantly, we show that chiral symmetry breaking can be found in the stationary response of the system, and the effect is successfully demonstrated in a microwave pump-probe experiment. Such symmetry breaking can lead to a giant nonlinear polarization change, energy localization and mode splitting, which provides a new possibility for creating an artificial phase transition in metamaterials, analogous to that in ferrimagnetic domains.
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