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Nat Mater. 2018 Feb;17(2):134-139. doi: 10.1038/nmat5047. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Ultralow-loss polaritons in isotopically pure boron nitride.

Author information

1
United States Naval Research Laboratory, Washington DC 20375, USA.
2
Department of Physics, University of California San Diego, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
3
Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506, USA.
4
Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830, USA.
5
NREIP Summer Student residing at NRL, Washington DC 20375, USA.
6
ASEE Postdoctoral Fellow residing at NRL, Washington DC 20375, USA.
7
Department of Physics, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
8
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37235, USA.

Abstract

Conventional optical components are limited to size scales much larger than the wavelength of light, as changes to the amplitude, phase and polarization of the electromagnetic fields are accrued gradually along an optical path. However, advances in nanophotonics have produced ultrathin, so-called 'flat' optical components that beget abrupt changes in these properties over distances significantly shorter than the free-space wavelength. Although high optical losses still plague many approaches, phonon polariton (PhP) materials have demonstrated long lifetimes for sub-diffractional modes in comparison to plasmon-polariton-based nanophotonics. We experimentally observe a threefold improvement in polariton lifetime through isotopic enrichment of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). Commensurate increases in the polariton propagation length are demonstrated via direct imaging of polaritonic standing waves by means of infrared nano-optics. Our results provide the foundation for a materials-growth-directed approach aimed at realizing the loss control necessary for the development of PhP-based nanophotonic devices.

PMID:
29251721
DOI:
10.1038/nmat5047
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