Efficiency of Launching Highly Confined Polaritons by Infrared Light Incident on a Hyperbolic Material

Siyuan Dai, Qiong Ma, Yafang Yang, Jeremy Rosenfeld, Michael D. Goldflam, Alex McLeod, Zhiyuan Sun, Trond I. Andersen, Zhe Fei, Mengkun Liu, Yinming Shao, Kenji Watanabe, Takashi Taniguchi, Mark Thiemens, Fritz Keilmann, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Michael M. Fogler, D. N. Basov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


We investigated phonon-polaritons in hexagonal boron nitride - a naturally hyperbolic van der Waals material - by means of the scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy. Real-space nanoimages we have obtained detail how the polaritons are launched when the light incident on a thin hexagonal boron nitride slab is scattered by various intrinsic and extrinsic inhomogeneities, including sample edges, metallic nanodisks deposited on its top surface, random defects, and surface impurities. The scanned tip of the near-field microscope is itself a polariton launcher whose efficiency proves to be superior to all the other types of polariton launchers we studied. Our work may inform future development of polaritonic nanodevices as well as fundamental studies of collective modes in van der Waals materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5285-5290
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 13 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the ONR under grant no. N00014-15-1-2671 and the AFOSR grant no. FA9550-15-1-0478. D.N.B. is an investigator in Quantum Materials funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS Initiative through grant no. GBMF4533. P.J.-H. acknowledges support from AFOSR grant number FA9550-11-1-0225 and the Packard Fellowship program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • Polariton launching
  • hexagonal boron nitride
  • hyperbolic materials
  • nano-optics
  • van der Waals materials


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