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Tunneling Plasmonics in Bilayer Graphene

Z. Fei, E. G. Iwinski, G. X. Ni, L. M. Zhang, W. Bao, A. S. Rodin, Y. Lee, M. Wagner, M. K. Liu, S. Dai, M. D. Goldflam, M. Thiemens, F. Keilmann, C. N. Lau, A. H. Castro-Neto, M. M. Fogler, and D. N. Basov

Nano Letters, 15 (8), pp 4973–4978 (2015)
We report experimental signatures of plasmonic effects due to electron tunneling between adjacent graphene layers. At subnanometer separation, such layers can form either a strongly coupled bilayer graphene with a Bernal stacking or a weakly coupled double-layer graphene with a random stacking order. Effects due to interlayer tunneling dominate in the former case but are negligible in the latter. We found through infrared nanoimaging that bilayer graphene supports plasmons with a higher degree of confinement compared to single- and double-layer graphene, a direct consequence of interlayer tunneling. Moreover, we were able to shut off plasmons in bilayer graphene through gating within a wide voltage range. Theoretical modeling indicates that such a plasmon-off region is directly linked to a gapped insulating state of bilayer graphene, yet another implication of interlayer tunneling. Our work uncovers essential plasmonic properties in bilayer graphene and suggests a possibility to achieve novel plasmonic functionalities in graphene few-layers.