Dynamic Control of Metamaterials at Terahertz Frequencies
Progress in the field of metamaterials has started coming to a point where the field may finally begin to emerge as a viable solution to many electromagnetic challenges facing the community. No where is that more true then at terahertz frequencies where there lies an immense opportunity for growth. The development of mature technologies within this region of the electromagnetic spectrum would provide a valuable resource to become available for a multitude of applications. In order to achieve this, the necessary first steps of identifying viable materials and paths to integrate these with metamaterials will need to be completed. In this dissertation, we examine several different paths to achieve dynamic metamaterial electromagnetic response at terahertz frequencies, and demonstrate several paths to package these devices into imaging systems. In Chapter 1, we introduce the basic theory and design principles of metamaterials. We also describe the experimental techniques involved in the study of terahertz metamaterials. Chapter 2 presents a computational and experimental study investigating the integration of high electron mobility transistors with metamaterials allowing for high speed modulation of incident terahertz radiation. In Chapters 3 and 4, we investigate several different paths to create tunable terahertz metamaterial absorbers. Chapter 3 presents an investigation where we encapsulate a metametarial absorber unit cell with liquid crystals. We study both computationally and experimentally the tuning mechanism of the absorber as the liquid crystal refractive index is controlled as a function of the applied electric field strength and modulation frequency. In Chapter 4, we form a doped semiconducting metamaterial spatial light modulator with multi-color super-pixels composed of arrays of electronically controlled terahertz metamaterial absorbers. We computationally and experimentally study the independent tunability of each pixel in the spatial array and demonstrate high speed modulation. Chapter 5 introduces a multiplex imaging approach by using a terahertz spatial light modulator to enable terahertz imaging with a single pixel detector. We demonstrate the capability for high speed image acquisition, currently only limited by the commerical software used to reconfigure the spatial masks. We also configure the system to capture high fidelity images of varying complexity. In Chapter 6, we show how a metamaterial absorber can be implemented into a detector focal plane array for high sensitivity, low mutual coupling, and broad angle performance. Finally, we summarize in Chapter 7 the achievments of the research presented and highlight the direction of future work.