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Active Infrared Nanophotonics in van der Waals Materials


Sherrott, Michelle Caroline (2018) Active Infrared Nanophotonics in van der Waals Materials. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9J964M8.


Two-dimensional van der Waals materials have recently been introduced into the field of nanophotonics, creating opportunities to explore novel physics and realize first-of-their kind devices. By reducing the thickness of these materials, novel optical properties emerge due to the introduction of vertical quantum confinement. Unlike most materials, which suffer from a reduction in quality as they are thinned, layered van der Waals materials have naturally passivated surfaces that preserve their performance in monolayer form. Moreover, because the thickness of these materials is below typical charge carrier screening lengths, it is possible to actively control their optical properties with an external gate voltage. By combining these unique properties with the subwavelength control of light-matter interactions provided by nanophotonics, new device architectures can be realized.

In this thesis, we explore van der Waals materials for active infrared nanophotonics, focusing on monolayer graphene and few-layer black phosphorus. Chapter 2 introduces gate-tunable graphene plasmons that interact strongly with their environment and can be combined with an external cavity to reach large absorption strengths in a single atomic layer. Chapter 3 builds on this, using graphene plasmons to control the spectral character and polarization state of thermal radiation. In Chapter 4, we complete the story of actively controlling infrared light using graphene-based structures, introducing graphene into a resonant gold structure to enable active control of phase. By combining these resonant structures together into a multi-pixel array, we realize an actively tunable meta-device for active beam steering in the infrared. In Chapters 5 and 6, we present few layer black phosphorus (BP) as a novel material for active infrared nanophotonics. We study the different electro-optic effects of the material from the visible to mid-infrared. We additionally examine the polarization-dependent response of few-layer BP, observing that we can tune its optical response from being highly anisotropic to nearly isotropic in plane. Finally, Chapter 7 comments on the challenges and opportunities for graphene- and BP-integrated nanophotonic structures and devices.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:van der Waals Materials; Infrared; Nanophotonics; Graphene; Black phosphorus; Plasmonics; Metasurfaces
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Materials Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute, Kavli Nanoscience Institute
Thesis Committee:
  • Greer, Julia R. (chair)
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
  • Rossman, George Robert
  • Minnich, Austin J.
Defense Date:12 January 2018
Non-Caltech Author Email:michelle.sherrott (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
DOE ‘Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion’ Energy Frontier Research CenterDE- SC0001293
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01262018-171457982
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription from which excepts are drawn for Ch. 2 from which excepts are drawn for Ch. 2 from which excepts are drawn for Ch. 2 from which excepts are drawn for Ch. 3 adapted for Ch. 4 adapted for Ch. 5 adapted for Ch. 6
Sherrott, Michelle Caroline0000-0002-7503-9714
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10649
Deposited By: Michelle Sherrott
Deposited On:02 Feb 2018 22:03
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

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