Graphene and van der Waals Materials
van der Waals (vdW) materials consist of individual atomic planes bonded by weak vdW attraction. These material display nearly all electronic and optical phenomena found in solids, including plasmonic oscillations of free electrons characteristic of metals, light emission/lasing and excitons encountered in semiconductors, and intense phonon resonances typical of insulators. These phenomena are embodied in confined light-matter hybrid modes termed polaritons—excitations of polarizable media, which are classified according to the origin of the polarization. The most studied varieties are plasmon, phonon, and exciton polaritons. In vdW materials, polaritons exhibit extraordinary properties that are directly affected by dimensionality and topology, as revealed by state-of-the-art imaging of polaritonic waves. vdW heterostructures provide unprecedented control over the polaritonic response, enabling new quantum phenomena and nanophotonics applications that we systematically investigate by means of a variety of nano-optical techniques developed in our laboratory. In collaboration with M.Fogler (UCSD).
Programmable Bloch polaritons in graphene
Xiong et al. . Science Advances 7, eabe8087 (2021). [Article 302]
We demonstrated efficient control of photons by hybridizing light with graphene Dirac electrons. Programmable control of photons is achieved by periodically modulating the carrier density of the Dirac electron using a proximate dielectric superlattice. In these periodic structures, common SPPs with continuous dispersion are transformed into Bloch polaritons with attendant discrete bands separated by bandgaps. We explored directional Bloch polaritons and steered their propagation by dialing the proper gate voltage. Fourier analysis of the near-field images corroborates that this novel on-demand nano-optics functionality is rooted in the polaritonic band structure. Our programmable polaritonic platform paves the way for the much-sought benefits of on-the-chip photonic circuits.
Charge-Transfer Plasmon Polaritons at Graphene/⍺-RuCl3 Interfaces
Rizzo et al. Nano Letters, 20, 8438 (2020) [Article 290]
Doped graphene is a robust platform for collective light-matter modes known as surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs). In our work, we demonstrate that the large work function of ⍺-RuCl3 can be exploited to create a massive charge density (>1013 cm-2) in graphene via charge-transfer across the 2D interface. Excitation of the resulting metallized graphene with light gives rise to three distinct types of charge-transfer plasmon polaritons (CPPs), which act as reporters of the nanoscale spatial dependence of interlayer charge transfer. The magnitude and minimum size of doping features in graphene generated in this manner surpasses what can be achieved with standard electrostatic gating, and are realized in a simplified, contactless device architecture.
Fizeau drag in graphene plasmonics
Dong, Xiong et al. Nature 594, 513 (2021) [Article 305]
Polaritons in van der Waals materials
Basov, Fogler and Abajo Science 354, 195 (2016). Article 
Nano-photocurrent Mapping of Local Electronic Structure in Twisted Bilayer Graphene
Sunku, McLeod et al. Nano Letters 20, 2958 (2020). Article 
Twisted bilayer graphene (TBG) is known to contain spatial variations in the twist angle. In this work, we show that scanning nano-photocurrent imaging is a fast and non-invasive technique for determining the twist angle of TBG with nano-scale spatial resolution.
Photocurrent generation in graphene is dominated by the photothermoelectric effect. Incident light heats the carriers in graphene which then generate a thermoelectric voltage when they encounter a variation of the Seebeck coefficient.
One such variation is the boundary between twisted bilayer graphene and monolayer graphene. By scanning across the boundary while changing the carrier density, we were able to determine the local twist angle of TBG with nano-scale spatial resolution.
Photonic crystals for nano-light in moiré graphene superlattices
Sunku et al. Science 362, 1153 (2018). Article 
Fundamental limits to graphene plasmonics
Ni et al. Nature 557, 530 (2018). Article 
Ultrafast optical switching of infrared plasmon polaritons in high-mobility graphene
Ni et al. Nature Photonics 10, 244 (2016). Article 
Plasmons in graphene moiré superlattices
Ni et al. Nature Materials 14, 1217 (2015) . Article 
Tunable Phonon Polaritons in Atomically Thin van der Waals Crystals of Boron Nitride
Dai et al. Science 343, 1125 (2014). Article 
van der Waals heterostructures assembled from atomically thin crystalline layers of diverse two-dimensional solids are emerging as a new paradigm in the physics of materials. We used infrared nanoimaging to study the properties of surface phonon polaritons in a representative van der Waals crystal, hexagonal boron nitride. We launched, detected, and imaged the polaritonic waves in real space and altered their wavelength by varying the number of crystal layers in our specimens. The measured dispersion of polaritonic waves was shown to be governed by the crystal thickness according to a scaling law that persists down to a few atomic layers. Our results are likely to hold true in other polar van der Waals crystals and may lead to new unctionalities.