Applications of negative index materials (NIM) presently are severely limited by absorption. Next to improvements of metamaterial designs, it has been suggested that dense gases of atoms could form a NIM with negligible losses. In such gases, the low absorption is facilitated by quantum interference. Here, we show that additional gain mechanisms can be used to tune and effectively remove absorption in a dense gas NIM. In our setup, the atoms are coherently prepared by control laser fields, and further driven by a weak incoherent pump field to induce gain. We employ nonlinear optical Bloch equations to analyze the optical response. Metastable Neon is identified as a suitable experimental candidate at infrared frequencies to implement a lossless active negative index material.
Negative refraction with tunable absorption in an active dense gas of atoms
Peter P. Orth, Roman Hennig, Christoph H. Keitel, Jörg Evers