Twisted Nano-Optics: Manipulating Light at the Nanoscale with Twisted Phonon Polaritonic Slabs

Nano Lett. 2020 Jul 8;20(7):5323-5329. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c01673. Epub 2020 Jun 18.


Recent discoveries have shown that, when two layers of van der Waals (vdW) materials are superimposed with a relative twist angle between them, the electronic properties of the coupled system can be dramatically altered. Here, we demonstrate that a similar concept can be extended to the optics realm, particularly to propagating phonon polaritons-hybrid light-matter interactions. To do this, we fabricate stacks composed of two twisted slabs of a vdW crystal (α-MoO3) supporting anisotropic phonon polaritons (PhPs), and image the propagation of the latter when launched by localized sources. Our images reveal that, under a critical angle, the PhPs isofrequency curve undergoes a topological transition, in which the propagation of PhPs is strongly guided (canalization regime) along predetermined directions without geometric spreading. These results demonstrate a new degree of freedom (twist angle) for controlling the propagation of polaritons at the nanoscale with potential for nanoimaging, (bio)-sensing, or heat management.

Keywords: Light canalization; Phonon Polaritons; hyperbolic materials; nano-optics; s-SNOM; van der Waals materials.