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A team of physicists from ITMO University, Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute and Australian National University have researched the phenomenon of phase transition between photonic crystals and metamaterials - two types of periodic structures capable of manipulating light in intricate ways. The study helps to gain an insight into the fundamental properties of periodic structures and opens new possibilities for the design and creation of new electromagnetic materials. The results of the study were published in Nature Communications.

Both photonic crystals and metamaterials are artificial materials compiled of little components with different electromagnetic properties. They resemble actual crystals, although the basic component in these materials is much bigger that just an atom or molecule. In physics, such materials are interesting due to their ability to effectively control the propagation of light. Photons in these materials can move in very unusual trajectories that are defined by the properties of the constituents that make up the periodic structure of the material.

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