Spin-orbit-locked hyperbolic polariton vortices carrying reconfigurable topological charges

M. Wang, G. Hu, S. Chand, M. Cotrufo, Y. Abate, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, G. Grosso, C.-W. Qiu and A. Alù

eLight 2, 12 (2022)
The topological features of optical vortices have been opening opportunities for free-space and on-chip photonic technologies, e.g., for multiplexed optical communications and robust information transport. In a parallel but disjoint effort, polar anisotropic van der Waals nanomaterials supporting hyperbolic phonon polaritons (HP2s) have been leveraged to drastically boost light-matter interactions. So far HP2 studies have been mainly focusing on the control of their amplitude and scale features. Here we report the generation and observation of mid-infrared hyperbolic polariton vortices (HP2Vs) associated with reconfigurable topological charges. Spiral-shaped gold disks coated with a flake of hexagonal boron nitride are exploited to tailor spin–orbit interactions and realise deeply subwavelength HP2Vs. The complex interplay between excitation spin, spiral geometry and HP2 dispersion enables robust reconfigurability of the associated topological charges. Our results reveal unique opportunities to extend the application of HP2s into topological photonics, quantum information processing by integrating these phenomena with single-photon emitters, robust on-chip optical applications, sensing and nanoparticle manipulation.