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As in Alice's journey through the looking-glass to Wonderland, mirrors in the real world can sometimes behave in surprising and unexpected ways, including a new class of mirror that works like no other.

As reported today in The Optical Society's (OSA) new journal Optica, scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, a new type of mirror that forgoes a familiar shiny metallic surface and instead reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial.

By placing nanoscale antennas at or very near the surface of these so-called "magnetic mirrors," scientists are able to capture and harness electromagnetic radiation in ways that have tantalizing potential in new classes of chemical sensors, solar cells, lasers, and other optoelectronic devices.

"We have achieved a new milestone in magnetic mirror technology by experimentally demonstrating this remarkable behavior of light at infrared wavelengths. Our breakthrough comes from using a specially engineered, non-metallic surface studded with nanoscale resonators," said Michael Sinclair, co-author on the Optica paper and a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA who co-led a research team with fellow author and Sandia scientist Igal Brener.

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