The inherent crystal anisotropy of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) sustains naturally hyperbolic phonon polaritons, i.e. polaritons that can propagate with very large wavevectors within the material volume, thereby enabling optical confinement to exceedingly small dimensions. Indeed, previous research has shown that nanometer-scale truncated nanocone hBN cavities, with deep subwavelength dimensions, support three-dimensionally confined optical modes in the mid-infrared. Due to optical selection rules, only a few of many such modes predicted theoretically have been observed experimentally via far-field reflection and scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy. The Photothermal induced resonance (PTIR) technique probes optical and vibrational resonances overcoming weak far-field emission by leveraging an atomic force microscope (AFM) probe to transduce local sample expansion due to light absorption. Here we show that PTIR enables the direct observation of previously unobserved, dark hyperbolic modes of hBN nanostructures. Leveraging these optical modes could yield a new degree of control over the electromagnetic near-field concentration, polarization and angular momentum in nanophotonic applications.
- hexagonal boron nitride
- phonon polariton