skip to main content

Title: Lithography-free IR polarization converters via orthogonal in-plane phonons in α-MoO3 flakes

Exploiting polaritons in natural vdW materials has been successful in achieving extreme light confinement and low-loss optical devices and enabling simplified device integration. Recently, α-MoO3has been reported as a semiconducting biaxial vdW material capable of sustaining naturally orthogonal in-plane phonon polariton modes in IR. In this study, we investigate the polarization-dependent optical characteristics of cavities formed using α-MoO3to extend the degrees of freedom in the design of IR photonic components exploiting the in-plane anisotropy of this material. Polarization-dependent absorption over 80% in a multilayer Fabry-Perot structure with α-MoO3is reported without the need for nanoscale fabrication on the α-MoO3. We observe coupling between the α-MoO3optical phonons and the Fabry-Perot cavity resonances. Using cross-polarized reflectance spectroscopy we show that the strong birefringence results in 15% of the total power converted into the orthogonal polarization with respect to incident wave. These findings can open new avenues in the quest for polarization filters and low-loss, integrated planar IR photonics and in dictating polarization control.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    In recent years, the excitation of surface phonon polaritons (SPhPs) in van der Waals materials received wide attention from the nanophotonics community. Alpha-phase Molybdenum trioxide (α-MoO3), a naturally occurring biaxial hyperbolic crystal, emerged as a promising polaritonic material due to its ability to support SPhPs for three orthogonal directions at different wavelength bands (range 10–20μm). Here, we report on the fabrication, structural, morphological, and optical IR characterization of large-area (over 1 cm2size)α-MoO3polycrystalline film deposited on fused silica substrates by pulsed laser deposition. Due to the random grain distribution, the thin film does not display any optical anisotropy at normal incidence. However, the proposed fabrication method allows us to achieve a singleα-phase, preserving the typical strong dispersion related to the phononic response ofα-MoO3flakes. Remarkable spectral properties of interest for IR photonics applications are reported. For instance, a polarization-tunable reflection peak at 1006 cm−1with a dynamic range of ΔR= 0.3 and a resonanceQ-factor as high as 53 is observed at 45° angle of incidence. Additionally, we report the fulfillment of an impedance matching condition with the SiO2substrate leading to a polarization-independent almost perfect absorption condition (R< 0.01) at 972 cm−1which is maintained for a broad angle of incidence. In this framework our findings appear extremely promising for the further development of mid-IR lithography-free, scalable films, for efficient and large-scale sensors, filters, thermal emitters, and label-free biochemical sensing devices operating in the free space, using far-field detection setups.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Low‐symmetry van der Waals materials are promising candidates for the next generation of polarization‐sensitive on‐chip photonics since they do not require lattice matching for growth and integration. Due to their low‐symmetry crystal behavior, such materials exhibit anisotropic and polarization‐dependent optical properties for a wide range of optical frequencies. Here, depolarization characteristics of orthorhombic α‐MoO3is studied in the visible range. Using polarizers and analyzers, it is demonstrated that α‐MoO3has negligible loss and that birefringence values as high as 0.15 and 0.12 at 532 nm and 633 nm, respectively, are achievable. With such a high birefringence, quarter‐ and half‐wave plate actions are demonstrated for a 1400 nm α‐MoO3flake at green (532 nm) and red (633 nm) wavelengths, and polarizability as high as 90% is reported. Furthermore, a system of double α‐MoO3heterostructure layer is investigated that provides the possibility of tuning polarization as a function of rotation angle between the α‐MoO3layers. These findings pave the way to the promising future of on‐chip photonic heterostructures and twist‐optics that can dictate the polarization state of light.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Hyperbolic phonon polaritons (HPhPs) are stimulated by coupling infrared (IR) photons with the polar lattice vibrations. Such HPhPs offer low‐loss, highly confined light propagation at subwavelength scales with out‐of‐plane or in‐plane hyperbolic wavefronts. For HPhPs, while a hyperbolic dispersion implies multiple propagating modes with a distribution of wavevectors at a given frequency, so far it has been challenging to experimentally launch and probe the higher‐order modes that offer stronger wavelength compression, especially for in‐plane HPhPs. In this work, the experimental observation of higher‐order in‐plane HPhP modes stimulated on a 3C‐SiC nanowire (NW)/α‐MoO3heterostructure is reported where leveraging both the low‐dimensionality and low‐loss nature of the polar NWs, higher‐order HPhPs modes within 2D α‐MoO3crystal are launched by the 1D 3C‐SiC NW. The launching mechanism is further studied and the requirements for efficiently launching of such higher‐order modes are determined. In addition, by altering the geometric orientation between the 3C‐SiC NW and α‐MoO3crystal, the manipulation of higher‐order HPhP dispersions as a method of tuning is demonstrated. This work illustrates an extremely anisotropic low dimensional heterostructure platform to confine and configure electromagnetic waves at the deep‐subwavelength scales for a range of IR applications including sensing, nano‐imaging, and on‐chip photonics.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The biaxial van der Waals semiconductor α‐phase molybdenum trioxide (α‐MoO3) has recently received significant attention due to its ability to support highly anisotropic phonon polaritons (PhPs)—infrared (IR) light coupled to lattice vibrations—offering an unprecedented platform for controlling the flow of energy at the nanoscale. However, to fully exploit the extraordinary IR response of this material, an accurate dielectric function is required. Here, the accurate IR dielectric function of α‐MoO3is reported by modeling far‐field polarized IR reflectance spectra acquired on a single thick flake of this material. Unique to this work, the far‐field model is refined by contrasting the experimental dispersion and damping of PhPs, revealed by polariton interferometry using scattering‐type scanning near‐field optical microscopy (s‐SNOM) on thin flakes of α‐MoO3, with analytical and transfer‐matrix calculations, as well as full‐wave simulations. Through these correlative efforts, exceptional quantitative agreement is attained to both far‐ and near‐field properties for multiple flakes, thus providing strong verification of the accuracy of this model, while offering a novel approach to extracting dielectric functions of nanomaterials. In addition, by employing density functional theory (DFT), insights into the various vibrational states dictating the dielectric function model and the intriguing optical properties of α‐MoO3are provided.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Lengenbachite is a naturally occurring layered mineral formed with alternating stacks of two constituent PbS-like and M2S3-like two-dimensional (2D) material layers due to the phase segregation process during the formation. Here, we demonstrate to achieve van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures of lengenbachite down to a few layer-pair thickness by mechanical exfoliation of bulk lengenbachite mineral. The incommensurability between the constituent isotropic 2D material layers makes the formed vdW heterostructure exhibit strong in-plane structural anisotropy, which leads to highly anisotropic optical responses in lengenbachite thin flakes, including anisotropic Raman scattering, linear dichroism, and anisotropic third-harmonic generation. Moreover, we exploit the nonlinear optical anisotropy for polarization-dependent intensity modulation of the converted third-harmonic optical vortices. Our study establishes lengenbachite as a new natural vdW heterostructure-based 2D material with unique optical properties for realizing anisotropic optical devices for photonic integrated circuits and optical information processing.

    more » « less