Deeply subwavelength phonon-polaritonic crystal made of a van der Waals material

F. J. Alfaro-Mozaz, S. G. Rodrigo, P. Alonso-González, S. Vélez, I. Dolado, F. Casanova, L. E. Hueso, L. Martín-Moreno, R. Hillenbrand and A. Y. Nikitin

Nature Communications 10, 42 (2019)
Photonic crystals (PCs) are periodically patterned dielectrics providing opportunities to shape and slow down the light for processing of optical signals, lasing and spontaneous emission control. Unit cells of conventional PCs are comparable to the wavelength of light and are not suitable for subwavelength scale applications. We engineer a nanoscale hole array in a van der Waals material (h-BN) supporting ultra-confined phonon polaritons (PhPs)—atomic lattice vibrations coupled to electromagnetic fields. Such a hole array represents a polaritonic crystal for mid-infrared frequencies having a unit cell volume of 10-5λ03 (with λ0 being the free-space wavelength), where PhPs form ultra-confined Bloch modes with a remarkably flat dispersion band. The latter leads to both angle- and polarization-independent sharp Bragg resonances, as verified by far-field spectroscopy and near-field optical microscopy. Our findings could lead to novel miniaturized angle- and polarization-independent infrared narrow-band couplers, absorbers and thermal emitters based on van der Waals materials and other thin polar materials