In 2000, Schultz, along with his group members, created a revolutionary new class of materials now known as "metamaterials" that allows electromagnetic waves such as light to be bent and manipulated in ways not normally encountered in nature.
The breakthrough finding by Schultz's lab—which built off the work of Russian physicist Victor Veselago, who originally theorized about the properties that such a material could possess if it existed — was initially met with skepticism as it was contrary to the established view at the time. But skeptics were proved wrong—and the discovery was eventually named one of the “Top Ten Breakthroughs in 2003” by the journal Science.
In 2009, Thomson Reuters added Schultz to its list of potential future winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
“This was a wonderful discovery,” said Brian Maple, a distinguished professor of physics at UC San Diego and longtime colleague of Sheldon Schultz. “This particular area of research, the design of novel materials, called metamaterials, with unusual physical properties that arise from repeating patterns of ordinary substances, created a new sub-discipline within physics.”
Schultz and his research group at UCSD was involved in the development and implementation of their newly discovered "Left Handed Meta Materials" with entirely new electro-magnetic properties, including the experimental demonstration of a negative index of refraction material.