Experimental investigation of optically controlled topological transition in bismuth-mica structure

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 1;11(1):13653. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93132-9.


The hyperbolic materials are strongly anisotropic media with a permittivity/permeability tensor having diagonal components of different sign. They combine the properties of dielectric and metal-like media and are described with hyperbolic isofrequency surfaces in wave-vector space. Such media may support unusual effects like negative refraction, near-field radiation enhancement and nanoscale light confinement. They were demonstrated mainly for microwave and infrared frequency ranges on the basis of metamaterials and natural anisotropic materials correspondingly. For the terahertz region, the tunable hyperbolic media were demonstrated only theoretically. This paper is dedicated to the first experimental demonstration of an optically tunable terahertz hyperbolic medium in 0.2-1.0 THz frequency range. The negative phase shift of a THz wave transmitted through the structure consisting of 40 nm (in relation to THz wave transmitted through substrate) to 120 nm bismuth film (in relation to both THz waves transmitted through substrate and air) on 21 µm mica substrate is shown. The optical switching of topological transition between elliptic and hyperbolic isofrequency contours is demonstrated for the effective structure consisting of 40 nm Bi on mica. For the case of 120 nm Bi on mica, the effective permittivity is only hyperbolic in the studied range. It is shown that the in-plane component of the effective permittivity tensor may be positive or negative depending on the frequency of THz radiation and continuous-wave optical pumping power (with a wavelength of 980 nm), while the orthogonal one is always positive. The proposed optically tunable structure may be useful for application in various fields of the modern terahertz photonics.