Fine Structure

Visualizing Negative Refraction

Skulls in the Stars, one of the newer blogs I've picked up reading, has an excellent post about negative refraction up today. If you view an object that partly above and partly below the surface of something transparent, like water, the object seems like it's in two disconnected pieces. That's regular refraction, and the way to quantitatively measure the effect is by calculating the refractive index of a substance. For all materials we have today, this index is a positive number.

Negative refraction isn't something that we can see today, but there's promise that some day metamaterials might be able to create a substance with a negative refractive index. The effect of a negative refractive index is hard to describe but there are some good visual simulations of what it might look like at the link below. ]