Smith, DR; Vier, DC; Koschny, T; Soukoulis, CM, *Electromagnetic parameter retrieval from inhomogeneous metamaterials.*,
Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, vol. 71 no. 3 Pt 2B
(March, 2005),
pp. 036617 [PhysRevE.71.036617], [doi] .
**Abstract:**

*We discuss the validity of standard retrieval methods that assign bulk electromagnetic properties, such as the electric permittivity epsilon and the magnetic permeability mu, from calculations of the scattering (S) parameters for finite-thickness samples. S-parameter retrieval methods have recently become the principal means of characterizing artificially structured metamaterials, which, by nature, are inherently inhomogeneous. While the unit cell of a metamaterial can be made considerably smaller than the free space wavelength, there remains a significant variation of the phase across the unit cell at operational frequencies in nearly all metamaterial structures reported to date. In this respect, metamaterials do not rigorously satisfy an effective medium limit and are closer conceptually to photonic crystals. Nevertheless, we show here that a modification of the standard S-parameter retrieval procedure yields physically reasonable values for the retrieved electromagnetic parameters, even when there is significant inhomogeneity within the unit cell of the structure. We thus distinguish a metamaterial regime, as opposed to the effective medium or photonic crystal regimes, in which a refractive index can be rigorously established but where the wave impedance can only be approximately defined. We present numerical simulations on typical metamaterial structures to illustrate the modified retrieval algorithm and the impact on the retrieved material parameters. We find that no changes to the standard retrieval procedures are necessary when the inhomogeneous unit cell is symmetric along the propagation axis; however, when the unit cell does not possess this symmetry, a modified procedure--in which a periodic structure is assumed--is required to obtain meaningful electromagnetic material parameters.*