Photonic crystals for nano-light in moiré graphene superlattices

S. S. Sunku, G. X. Ni, B. Y. Jiang, H. Yoo, A. Sternbach, A. S. McLeod, T. Stauber, L. Xiong, T. Taniguchi, K. Watanabe, P. Kim, M. M. Fogler and D. N. Basov

Science 362, 1153 (2018)
Graphene is an atomically thin plasmonic medium that supports highly confined plasmon polaritons, or nano-light, with very low loss. Electronic properties of graphene can be drastically altered when it is laid upon another graphene layer, resulting in a moiré superlattice. The relative twist angle between the two layers is a key tuning parameter of the interlayer coupling in thus-obtained twisted bilayer graphene (TBG). We studied the propagation of plasmon polaritons in TBG by infrared nano-imaging. We discovered that the atomic reconstruction occurring at small twist angles transforms the TBG into a natural plasmon photonic crystal for propagating nano-light. This discovery points to a pathway for controlling nano-light by exploiting quantum properties of graphene and other atomically layered van der Waals materials, eliminating the need for arduous top-down nanofabrication.