In recent years, unconventional metamaterial properties have triggered a revolution of electromagnetic research which has unveiled novel scenarios of wave-matter interaction. A very small dielectric permittivity is a leading example of such unusual features, since it produces an exotic static-like regime where the electromagnetic field is spatially slowly-varying over a physically large region. The so-called epsilon-near-zero metamaterials thus offer an ideal platform where to manipulate the inner details of the “stretched” field. Here we theoretically prove that a standard nonlinearity is able to operate such a manipulation to the point that even a thin slab produces a dramatic nonlinear pulse transformation, if the dielectric permittivity is very small within the field bandwidth. The predicted non-resonant releasing of full nonlinear coupling produced by the epsilon-near-zero condition does not resort to any field enhancement mechanism and opens novel routes to exploiting matter nonlinearity for steering the radiation by means of ultra-compact structures.
Ciattoni, A., Rizza, C., Marini, A., Di Falco, A., Faccio, D. F. A., & Scalora, M. (2016). Enhanced nonlinear effects in pulse propagation through epsilon-near-zero media. Laser and Photonics Reviews, 10(3), 517–525. https://doi.org/10.1002/lpor.201500326