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In one general aspect, a tunable electromagnetic metamaterial as described herein includes a substrate and an array of split ring resonators formed on the substrate. At least one of the split ring resonators is a capacitively tuned split ring resonator. The capacitively tuned split ring resonator includes a structure having a gap and is formed of an electrically conductive material. The capacitively tuned split ring resonator also includes a region of photo-capacitive material formed in close proximity to the structure such that the capacitance of the metamaterial is changed when illuminated by controlling electromagnetic radiation having a selected range of wavelengths.