High reflectance in many state-of-the-art optical devices is achieved with noble metals. However, metals are limited by losses and, for certain applications, by their high mass density. Using a combination of ab initio and optical transfer matrix calculations, we evaluate the behavior of graphene-based angstrom-scale metamaterials and find that they could act as nearly perfect reflectors in the mid–long-wave infrared (IR) range. The low density of states for electron–phonon scattering and interband excitations leads to unprecedented optical properties for graphene heterostructures, especially alternating atomic layers of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride, at wavelengths greater than 10 μm. At these wavelengths, these materials exhibit reflectivities exceeding 99.7% at a fraction of the weight of noble metals, as well as plasmonic mode confinement and quality factors that are greater by an order of magnitude compared to noble metals. These findings hold promise for ultracompact optical components and waveguides for mid-IR applications. Moreover, unlike metals, the photonic properties of these heterostructures could be actively tuned via chemical and/or electrostatic doping, providing exciting possibilities for tunable devices.

Last updated on 07/13/2018