Planar refraction and lensing of highly confined polaritons in anisotropic media

J. Duan, G. Álvarez-Pérez, A. I. F. Tresguerres-Mata, J. Taboada-Gutiérrez, K. V. Voronin, A. Bylinkin, B. Chang, S. Xiao, S. Liu, J. H. Edgar, J. I. Martín, V. S. Volkov, R. Hillenbrand, J. Martín-Sánchez, A. Y. Nikitin and P. Alonso-González

Nature Communications 12, 4325 (2021)
Refraction between isotropic media is characterized by light bending towards the normal to the boundary when passing from a low- to a high-refractive-index medium. However, refraction between anisotropic media is a more exotic phenomenon which remains barely investigated, particularly at the nanoscale. Here, we visualize and comprehensively study the general case of refraction of electromagnetic waves between two strongly anisotropic (hyperbolic) media, and we do it with the use of nanoscale-confined polaritons in a natural medium: α-MoO3. The refracted polaritons exhibit non-intuitive directions of propagation as they traverse planar nanoprisms, enabling to unveil an exotic optical effect: bending-free refraction. Furthermore, we develop an in-plane refractive hyperlens, yielding foci as small as λp/6, being λp the polariton wavelength (λ0/50 compared to the wavelength of free-space light). Our results set the grounds for planar nano-optics in strongly anisotropic media, with potential for effective control of the flow of energy at the nanoscale.