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Electron waves refract negatively

Graphene subs for metamaterials to elicit backward bending

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11:00am, September 14, 2015
negative refraction graph

BENDING ELECTRONS  Light refracts, or bends, as it moves from one material to another (top left). It can bend more drastically when exposed to metamaterials (bottom left). Now researchers have achieved the same extreme bending with electrons (right), using graphene covered with gold to focus electrons to a point.

Nearly a decade after getting waves of light to bend backward, physicists have done the same with electrons.

Electrons coursing through a sheet of carbon atoms exhibited negative refraction, bending at angles not seen in nature, physicists report September 14 in Nature Physics. By exploiting this unusual bending, the researchers created a lenslike device to focus the electrons to a tiny point. The new technique could help physicists learn how to manipulate electrons in the tight confines of miniaturized electronic devices, where the particles often behave like waves.

Waves bend via refraction when they cross the interface between two materials. Light moving from air to glass, for example, bends toward an imaginary line perpendicular to the glass surface but keeps moving in the same general direction.

Intricate engineered structures called metamaterials bend light differently, causing waves to

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