Amplitude- and Phase-Resolved Infrared Nanoimaging and Nanospectroscopy of Polaritons in a Liquid Environment

D. Virmani, A. Bylinkin, I. Dolado, E. Janzen, J. H. Edgar and R. Hillenbrand

Nano Letters, Article ASAP (2021)
Polaritons allow for strong light-matter coupling and for highly sensitive analysis of (bio)chemical substances and processes. Nanoimaging of the polaritons’ evanescent fields is critically important for experimental mode identification and field confinement studies. Here we describe two setups for polariton nanoimaging and spectroscopy in liquid. We first demonstrate the mapping of localized plasmon polaritons in metal antennas with a transflection infrared scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscope (s-SNOM), where the tip acts as a near-field scattering probe. We then demonstrate a total internal reflection (TIR)-based setup, where the tip is both launching and probing ultraconfined polaritons in van der Waals materials (here phonon polaritons in hexagonal boron nitride flakes), laying the foundation for s-SNOM-based polariton interferometry in liquid. Our results promise manifold applications, for example, in situ studies of strong coupling between polaritons and molecular vibrations or chemical reactions at the bare or functionalized surfaces of polaritonic materials.