Subdiffractional focusing and guiding of polaritonic rays in a natural hyperbolic material

S. Dai, Q. Ma, T. Andersen, A. S. McLeod, Z. Fei, M. K. Liu, M. Wagner, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, M. Thiemens, F. Keilmann, P. Jarillo-Herrero, M. M. Fogler, D. N. Basov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Uniaxial materials whose axial and tangential permittivities have opposite signs are referred to as indefinite or hyperbolic media. In such materials, light propagation is unusual leading to novel and often non-intuitive optical phenomena. Here we report infrared nano-imaging experiments demonstrating that crystals of hexagonal boron nitride, a natural mid-infrared hyperbolic material, can act as a 'hyper-focusing lens' and as a multi-mode waveguide. The lensing is manifested by subdiffractional focusing of phonon-polaritons launched by metallic disks underneath the hexagonal boron nitride crystal. The waveguiding is revealed through the modal analysis of the periodic patterns observed around such launchers and near the sample edges. Our work opens new opportunities for anisotropic layered insulators in infrared nanophotonics complementing and potentially surpassing concurrent artificial hyperbolic materials with lower losses and higher optical localization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6963
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Apr 22 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.N.B. acknowledges support from DOE-BES grant DE-FG02-00ER45799 and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s EPiQS initiative through Grant GBMF4533; research on polariton focusing is supported by AFOSR. Work at UCSD is supported by the Office of Naval Research, AFOSR, NASA and The University of California Office of the President. A.S.M. acknowledges support from an Office of Science Graduate Research Fellowship from U.S. Department of Energy. P.J-H acknowledges support from AFOSR grant number FA9550-11-1-0225.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


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