Ultrafast nonlocal collective dynamics of Kane plasmon-polaritons in a narrow-gap semiconductor

A. Charnukha, A. Sternbach, H. T. Stinson, R. Schlereth, C. Brüne, L. W. Molenkamp, D. N. Basov

Science Advances 5, eaau9956 (2019)
The observation of ultrarelativistic fermions in condensed-matter systems has uncovered a cornucopia of novel phenomenology as well as a potential for effective ultrafast light engineering of new states of matter. While the nonequilibrium properties of two- and three-dimensional (2D and 3D) hexagonal crystals have been studied extensively, our understanding of the photoinduced dynamics in 3D single-valley ultrarelativistic materials is, unexpectedly, lacking. Here, we use ultrafast scanning near-field optical spectroscopy to access and control nonequilibrium large-momentum plasmon-polaritons in thin films of a prototypical narrow-bandgap semiconductor Hg0.81Cd0.19Te. We demonstrate that these collective excitations exhibit distinctly nonclassical scaling with electron density characteristic of the ultrarelativistic Kane regime and experience ultrafast initial relaxation followed by a long-lived highly coherent state. Our observation and ultrafast control of Kane plasmon-polaritons in a semiconducting material using light sources in the standard telecommunications fiber-optics window open a new avenue toward high-bandwidth coherent information processing in next-generation plasmonic circuits.