Surface plasmons induce topological transition in graphene/α-MoO3 heterostructures

F. L. Ruta, B. S. Y. Kim, Z. Sun, D. J. Rizzo, A. S. McLeod, A. Rajendran, S. Liu, A. J. Millis, J. C. Hone and D. N. Basov

Nature Communications 13, 3719 (2022)
Polaritons in hyperbolic van der Waals materials—where principal axes have permittivities of opposite signs—are light-matter modes with unique properties and promising applications. Isofrequency contours of hyperbolic polaritons may undergo topological transitions from open hyperbolas to closed ellipse-like curves, prompting an abrupt change in physical properties. Electronically-tunable topological transitions are especially desirable for future integrated technologies but have yet to be demonstrated. In this work, we present a doping-induced topological transition effected by plasmon-phonon hybridization in graphene/α-MoO3 heterostructures. Scanning near-field optical microscopy was used to image hybrid polaritons in graphene/α-MoO3. We demonstrate the topological transition and characterize hybrid modes, which can be tuned from surface waves to bulk waveguide modes, traversing an exceptional point arising from the anisotropic plasmon-phonon coupling. Graphene/α-MoO3 heterostructures offer the possibility to explore dynamical topological transitions and directional coupling that could inspire new nanophotonic and quantum devices.