I recently won a prize at my school for physics (£25) for which they ask that we spend some money they have given us on a book with which they can present us during an assembly. Given that over the past two years I have dedicated a lot of work to learning about the fields of metamaterials and optics, I'd quite like to get a book which reflects the fact to some extent. However, there are a few possible categories I would think which might do this:

Seminal Work

I was considering trying to buying Physical Review Letters Volume 85, Issue 18 30 October 2000, based off of the letter contained within by John Pendry on the topic of a perfect lens (given that, as my name suggests, I'm very interested in the topic of doubly negative metamaterials, I thought this might be a perfect book). But my knowledge of what works were the most influential is limited both by a lack of personal knowledge, and by what happens to spring to mind, so what important works would people suggest I might buy on the topic of metamaterials (preferably of the optical variety).

Textbook Style Book

Another direction is to buy something which is more utilitarian in nature than some seminal work, perhaps a textbook on optics of some sort. However, given the general availability of most non-specialised information on the internet, I'd ideally like a textbook which I'd be able to keep and use as a reference text on optics for a while to come. It doesn't have to be something I'd completely understand at the moment, but something which would be comprehensible to me after studying physics at uni, and which I could chip away at before then. I know I've seen books before going into lots of detail on quite niche topics of research, so perhaps something somewhere between a book to that professional level of detail which may not be useful if I never come into that field, and a book which is too general to be that in depth in any topic. So any suggestions here, too, would be very helpful!

Anything else

If there's any other book that you think a physicist interested in optics and metamaterials would enjoy, I'd appreciate knowing that, too!

Thank you very much for all your times, and all your recommendations will be appreciated!


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  • $\begingroup$ The Phys. Rev. Lett. issue would be a waste of money - it's a journal issue, and it's extremely unlikely to contain any other papers on the same subject. The only reasons to buy such issues in hard copy nowadays are sentimental. Get a PDF of the paper itself and move on. (If you're having a hard time finding a PDF, just email the author directly. Heck, you could use the opportunity to ask for book recommendations.) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ A textbook on optical metamaterials is a much better option, but I'm sorry to say that £25 is going to fall rather short, by a factor of two or three, for most works in this category. I'd recommend looking through the Dover catalogue if that's your price range. (They specialize in bringing old out-of-print books, which are still current and relevant, back to life, at very low prices.) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Is this some kind of endowment to the school (e.g. a book for the library), or is this a prize for your personal collection? If it's the latter what level of education is this? $\endgroup$ – Novice C May 27 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your advice, Emilio. I did wonder if most of the textbooks would be outside of my price range, so I might supplement it with some of my own money. And, Novice C, it's for my own personal use. I'm currently a year before university, but I have spent the past two years working intensively on metamaterials, and so I'm personally at the standard where I can roughly follow most metamaterials research papers I've found, although as I'm self-taught, I sometimes have difficulty finding out precisely about new terms/concepts when they crop up - hence I thought about a textbook. $\endgroup$ – DoublyNegative May 27 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, the optics section of Dover Publications looks exactly what I was looking for! $\endgroup$ – DoublyNegative May 27 at 8:08

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