Ultrathin tunable terahertz absorber based on MEMS-driven metamaterial

Mingkai Liu, Mohamad Susli, Dilusha Silva, Gino Putrino, Hemendra Kala, Shuting Fan, Michael Cole, Lorenzo Faraone, Vincent P. Wallace, Willie J. Padilla, David A. Powell, Ilya V. Shadrivov, Mariusz Martyniuk

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    83 Citations (Scopus)


    The realization of high-performance tunable absorbers for terahertz frequencies is crucial for advancing applications such as single-pixel imaging and spectroscopy. Based on the strong position sensitivity of metamaterials' electromagnetic response, we combine meta-atoms that support strongly localized modes with suspended flat membranes that can be driven electrostatically. This design maximizes the tunability range for small mechanical displacements of the membranes. We employ a micro-electromechanical system technology and successfully fabricate the devices. Our prototype devices are among the best-performing tunable THz absorbers demonstrated to date, with an ultrathin device thickness (similar to 1/50 of the working wavelength), absorption varying between 60% and 80% in the initial state when the membranes remain suspended, and fast switching speed (similar to 27 mu s). The absorption is tuned by an applied voltage, with the most marked results achieved when the structure reaches the snap-down state. In this case, the resonance shifts by >200% of the linewidth (14% of the initial resonance frequency), and the absolute absorption modulation measured at the initial resonance can reach 65%. The demonstrated approach can be further optimized and extended to benefit numerous applications in THz technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number17033
    Number of pages6
    JournalMicrosystems & Nanoengineering
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2017


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