Volume 86, Number 4, May 2009
Article Number 47008
Number of page(s) 5
Section Condensed Matter: Electronic Structure, Electrical, Magnetic and Optical Properties
Published online 05 June 2009
EPL, 86 (2009) 47008
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/86/47008

Zitterbewegung of optical pulses near the Dirac point inside a negative-zero-positive index metamaterial

Li-Gang Wang1, 2, Zhi-Guo Wang2, 3 and Shi-Yao Zhu1, 2, 4

1   Department of Physics, Zhejiang University - Hangzhou 310027, China
2   Centre of Optical Sciences and Department of Physics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Shatin, N. T., Hong Kong
3   Department of Physics, Tongji University - Shanghai 200092, China
4   Department of Physics, Hong Kong Baptist University - Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

received 9 March 2009; accepted in final form 5 May 2009; published May 2009
published online 5 June 2009

By numerically solving Maxwell's equation with boundary conditions, we have demonstrated the optical Zitterbewegung effect by means of electromagnetic pulses propagating through a negative-zero-positive index metamaterial (NZPIM). We find that a finite pulse with frequencies near the Dirac point of the NZPIM diffuses and oscillates, and its output pulse from the finite NZPIM slab becomes an oscillating pulse with a characteristic frequency independent of the slab thickness. We further find that the oscillating properties of the optical Zitterbewegung effect are strongly dependent on the pulse parameters: such as pulse duration and pulse transverse spatial width. The physical nature of such oscillation effects is due to the interference between the upper and lower high-transmittance passbands at both sides of the Dirac point of the NZPIM slab, which is similar to the Zitterbewegung of electron wave packets.

78.20.Ci - Optical constants (including refractive index, complex dielectric constant, absorption, reflection and transmission coefficients, emissivity).
41.20.Jb - Electromagnetic wave propagation; radiowave propagation.
03.65.Ta - Foundations of quantum mechanics; measurement theory.

© EPLA 2009