Phonon polaritons in van der Waals materials reveal significant confinement accompanied with long propagation length: important virtues for tasks pertaining to the control of light and energy flow at the nanoscale. While previous studies of phonon polaritons have relied on relatively thick samples, here reported is the first observation of surface phonon polaritons in single atomic layers and bilayers of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). Using antenna‐based near‐field microscopy, propagating surface phonon polaritons in mono‐ and bilayer hBN microcrystals are imaged. Phonon polaritons in monolayer hBN are confined in a volume about one million times smaller than the free‐space photons. Both the polariton dispersion and their wavelength–thickness scaling law are altered compared to those of hBN bulk counterparts. These changes are attributed to phonon hardening in monolayer‐thick crystals. The data reported here have bearing on applications of polaritons in metasurfaces and ultrathin optical elements.

Last updated on 10/03/2019