We selectively excite and study two new types of phonon-polariton guided modes that are found in hexagonal boron nitride thin flakes on a gold substrate. Such modes show substantially improved confinement and a group velocity that is hundreds of times slower than the speed of light, thereby providing a new way to create slow light in the mid-infrared range with a simple structure that does not require nano-patterning. One mode is the fundamental mode in the first Restrahlen band of hexagonal boron nitride thin crystals on a gold substrate; the other mode is equivalent to the second mode of the second Restrahlen band of hexagonal boron nitride flakes that are suspended in vacuum.
Hexagonal boron nitride has been proposed as an excellent candidate to achieve subwavelength infrared light manipulation owing to its polar lattice structure, enabling excitation of low-loss phonon polaritons with hyperbolic dispersion. We show that strongly subwavelength hexagonal boron nitride planar nanostructures can exhibit ultra-confined resonances and local field enhancement. We investigate strong light-matter interaction in these nanoscale structures via photo-induced force microscopy, scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, with excellent agreement with numerical simulations. We design optical nano-dipole antennas and directly image the fields when bright- or dark-mode resonances are excited. These modes are deep subwavelength, and strikingly, they can be supported by arbitrarily small structures. We believe that phonon polaritons in hexagonal boron nitride can play for infrared light a role similar to that of plasmons in noble metals at visible frequency, paving the way for a new class of efficient and highly miniaturized nanophotonic devices.
In article number 1800072, Josué J. López and co‐workers use photothermal microscopy to measure the near‐field absorption of nanostructured hexagonal boron nitride (h‐BN) and reveal a large photothermal expansion in the nanostructures. This effect is attributed to the anisotropy of the thermal expansion coefficients of h‐BN and the nanostructuring implemented. The photothermal expansion should be present in other van der Waals materials and may lead to nanomechanical switches driven by light.
Guided modes in nanometer thick anisotropic van der Waals materials are experimentally investigated and their refractive indices in visible wavelengths are extracted. Our method involves near-field scanning optical microscopy of waveguide (transverse electric) and surface plasmon polariton (transverse magnetic) modes in h-BN/SiO2/Si and Ag/h-BN stacks, respectively. We determine the dispersion of these modes and use this relationship to extract anisotropic refractive indices of h-BN flakes. In the wavelength interval 550–700 nm, the in-plane and out-of-plane refractive indices are in the range 1.98–2.12 and 1.45–2.12, respectively. Our approach of using near-field scanning optical microscopy allows for the direct study of the interaction between light and two-dimensional van der Waals materials and heterostructures.
Optical elements that convert the spin angular momentum (SAM) of light into vortex beams have found applications in classical and quantum optics. These elements—SAM-to– orbital angular momentum (OAM) converters—are based on the geometric phase and only permit the conversion of left- and right-circular polarizations (spin states) into states with opposite OAM. We present a method for converting arbitrary SAM states into total angular momentum states characterized by a superposition of independent OAM. We designed a metasurface that converts left- and right-circular polarizations into states with independent values of OAM and designed another device that performs this operation for elliptically polarized states. These results illustrate a general material-mediated connection between SAM and OAM of light and may find applications in producing complex structured light and in optical communication.
The directional light-induced mass migration phenomenon arising in the photoresponsive azobenzene-containing materials has become an increasingly used approach for the fabrication of controlled tridimensional superficial textures. In the present work we demonstrate the tailoring of the superficial wettability of an azopolymer by means of the light-driven reconfiguration of an array of imprinted micropillars. Few simple illumination parameters are controlled to induce nontrivial wetting effects. Wetting anisotropy with controlled directionality, unidirectional spreading, and even polarization-intensity driven two-dimensional paths for wetting anisotropy are obtained starting from a single pristine pillar geometry. The obtained results prove that the versatility of the light-reconfiguration process, together with the possibility of reversible reshaping at reduced costs, represents a valid approach for both applications and fundamental studies in the field of geometry-based wettability of solid surfaces.
We introduce the Holographic &\#x2013; Single Scatterer Localization Microscopy in which we combine dynamical laser speckle illumination with centroid localization of backscattered light spots in order to localize isolated scattering particles. The reconstructed centroid images show very accurate particle localization, with precision much better than the width of diffraction-limited image of the particles recorded by the CCD. Furthermore, the method provides an improved resolution in distinguishing two very close scattering objects compared to the standard laser scanning techniques and can be assimilated to a confocal technique in the ability of light background rejection in three-dimensional disposition of scattering objects. The illumination is controlled via a digital holography setup based on the use of a spatial light modulator. This allows not only a high level of versatility in the illumination patterns, but also the remarkable characteristics of absence of moving mechanical parts, typical of the laser scanning techniques, and the possibility of strongly miniaturizing the setup.