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  1. Phonons are important lattice vibrations that affect the thermal, electronic, and optical properties of materials. In this work, we studied infrared phonon resonance in a prototype van der Waals (vdW) material—hexagonal boron nitride (hBN)—with the thickness ranging from monolayers to bulk, especially on ultra-thin crystals with atomic layers smaller than 20. Our combined experimental and modeling results show a systematic increase in the intensity of in-plane phonon resonance at the increasing number of layers in hBN, with a sensitivity down to one atomic layer. While the thickness-dependence of the phonon resonance reveals the antenna nature of our nanoscope, the linear thickness-scaling of the phonon polariton wavelength indicates the preservation of electromagnetic hyperbolicity in ultra-thin hBN layers. Our conclusions should be generic for fundamental resonances in vdW materials and heterostructures where the number of constituent layers can be conveniently controlled. The thickness-dependent phonon resonance and phonon polaritons revealed in our work also suggest vdW engineering opportunities for desired thermal and nanophotonic functionalities.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 7, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  3. Abstract

    Polaritons enable subwavelength confinement and highly anisotropic flows of light over a wide spectral range, holding the promise for applications in modern nanophotonic and optoelectronic devices. However, to fully realize their practical application potential, facile methods enabling nanoscale active control of polaritons are needed. Here, we introduce a hybrid polaritonic-oxide heterostructure platform consisting of van der Waals crystals, such as hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) or alpha-phase molybdenum trioxide (α-MoO3), transferred on nanoscale oxygen vacancy patterns on the surface of prototypical correlated perovskite oxide, samarium nickel oxide, SmNiO3(SNO). Using a combination of scanning probe microscopy and infrared nanoimaging techniques, we demonstrate nanoscale reconfigurability of complex hyperbolic phonon polaritons patterned at the nanoscale with high resolution. Hydrogenation and temperature modulation allow spatially localized conductivity modulation of SNO nanoscale patterns, enabling robust real-time modulation and nanoscale reconfiguration of hyperbolic polaritons. Our work paves the way towards nanoscale programmable metasurface engineering for reconfigurable nanophotonic applications.

  4. Abstract

    Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) has been predicted to exhibit an in-plane thermal conductivity as high as ~ 550 W m−1K−1at room temperature, making it a promising thermal management material. However, current experimental results (220–420 W m−1K−1) have been well below the prediction. Here, we report on the modulation of h-BN thermal conductivity by controlling the B isotope concentration. For monoisotopic10B h-BN, an in-plane thermal conductivity as high as 585 W m−1K−1is measured at room temperature, ~ 80% higher than that of h-BN with a disordered isotope concentration (52%:48% mixture of10B and11B). The temperature-dependent thermal conductivities of monoisotopic h-BN agree well with first principles calculations including only intrinsic phonon-phonon scattering. Our results illustrate the potential to achieve high thermal conductivity in h-BN and control its thermal conductivity, opening avenues for the wide application of h-BN as a next-generation thin-film material for thermal management, metamaterials and metadevices.

  5. Coherent optical excitations in two-dimensional (2D) materials, 2D polaritons, can generate a plethora of optical phenomena that arise from the extraordinary dispersion relations that do not exist in regular materials. Probing of the dynamical phenomena of 2D polaritons requires simultaneous spatial and temporal imaging capabilities and could reveal unknown coherent optical phenomena in 2D materials. Here, we present a spatiotemporal measurement of 2D wave packet dynamics, from its formation to its decay, using an ultrafast transmission electron microscope driven by femtosecond midinfrared pulses. The ability to coherently excite phonon-polariton wave packets and probe their evolution in a nondestructive manner reveals intriguing dispersion-dependent dynamics that includes splitting of multibranch wave packets and, unexpectedly, wave packet deceleration and acceleration. Having access to the full spatiotemporal dynamics of 2D wave packets can be used to illuminate puzzles in topological polaritons and discover exotic nonlinear optical phenomena in 2D materials.