Sub-diffractional cavity modes of terahertz hyperbolic phonon polaritons in tin oxid

F. H. Feres, R. A. Mayer, L. Wehmeier, F. C. B. Maia, E. R. Viana, A. Malachias, H. A. Bechtel, J. M. Klopf, L. M. Eng, S. C. Kehr, J. C. González, R. O. Freitas and I. D. Barcelos

Nature Communications 12, 1995 (2021)
Hyperbolic phonon polaritons have recently attracted considerable attention in nanophotonics mostly due to their intrinsic strong electromagnetic field confinement, ultraslow polariton group velocities, and long lifetimes. Here we introduce tin oxide (SnO2) nanobelts as a photonic platform for the transport of surface and volume phonon polaritons in the mid- to far-infrared frequency range. This report brings a comprehensive description of the polaritonic properties of SnO2 as a nanometer-sized dielectric and also as an engineered material in the form of a waveguide. By combining accelerator-based IR-THz sources (synchrotron and free-electron laser) with s-SNOM, we employed nanoscale far-infrared hyper-spectral-imaging to uncover a Fabry–Perot cavity mechanism in SnO2 nanobelts via direct detection of phonon-polariton standing waves. Our experimental findings are accurately supported by notable convergence between theory and numerical simulations. Thus, the SnO2 is confirmed as a natural hyperbolic material with unique photonic properties essential for future applications involving subdiffractional light traffic and detection in the far-infrared range.