Twist-tunable polaritonic nanoresonators in a van der Waals crystal

O. G. Matveeva, A. I. F. Tresguerres-Mata, R. V. Kirtaev, K. V. Voronin, J. Taboada-Gutiérrez, C. Lanza, J. Duan, J. Martín-Sánchez, V. S. Volkov, P. Alonso-González and A. Y. Nikitin

2D Materials and Applications 7, 31 (2023)
Optical nanoresonators are key building blocks in various nanotechnological applications (e.g., spectroscopy) due to their ability to effectively confine light at the nanoscale. Recently, nanoresonators based on phonon polaritons (PhPs)—light coupled to lattice vibrations—in polar crystals (e.g., SiC, or h-BN) have attracted much attention due to their strong field confinement, high quality factors, and their potential to enhance the photonic density of states at mid-infrared (mid-IR) frequencies, where numerous molecular vibrations reside. Here, we introduce a new class of mid-IR nanoresonators that not only exhibit the extraordinary properties previously reported, but also incorporate a new degree of freedom: twist tuning, i.e., the possibility of controlling their spectral response by simply rotating the constituent material. To achieve this result, we place a pristine slab of the van der Waals (vdW) α-MoO3 crystal, which supports in-plane hyperbolic PhPs, on an array of metallic ribbons. This sample design based on electromagnetic engineering, not only allows the definition of α-MoO3 nanoresonators with low losses (quality factors, Q, up to 200), but also enables a broad spectral tuning of the polaritonic resonances (up to 32 cm−1, i.e., up to ~6 times their full width at half maximum, FWHM ~5 cm−1) by a simple in-plane rotation of the same slab (from 0 to 45°). These results open the door to the development of tunable and low-loss IR nanotechnologies, fundamental requirements for their implementation in molecular sensing, emission or photodetection applications.