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Hyperbolic phonon-polaritons in boron nitride for near-field optical imaging and focusing

P. Li, M. Lewin, A. V. Kretinin, J. D. Caldwell, K. S. Novoselov, T. Taniguchi, K. Watanabe, F. Gaussmann & T. Taubner

Nature Communications 6, No. 7507 (2015)
Hyperbolic materials exhibit sub-diffractional, highly directional, volume-confined polariton modes. Here we report that hyperbolic phonon polaritons allow for a flat slab of hexagonal boron nitride to enable exciting near-field optical applications, including unusual imaging phenomenon (such as an enlarged reconstruction of investigated objects) and sub-diffractional focusing. Both the enlarged imaging and the super-resolution focusing are explained based on the volume-confined, wavelength dependent propagation angle of hyperbolic phonon polaritons. With advanced infrared nanoimaging techniques and state-of-art mid-infrared laser sources, we have succeeded in demonstrating and visualizing these unexpected phenomena in both Type I and Type II hyperbolic conditions, with both occurring naturally within hexagonal boron nitride. These efforts have provided a full and intuitive physical picture for the understanding of the role of hyperbolic phonon polaritons in near-field optical imaging, guiding, and focusing applications.