We demonstrate strong light-matter coupling at room temperature in the terahertz (THz) spectral region using 3D meta-atoms with extremely sub-wavelength volumes.
Using an air-bridge fabrication scheme, we have implemented sub-wavelength 3D THz micro-resonators that rely on suspended loop antennas connected to semiconductor-filled patch cavities. We have experimentally shown that they possess the functionalities of lumped LC resonators: their frequency response can be adjusted by independently tuning the inductance associated the antenna element or the capacitance provided by the metal-semiconductor-metal cavity. Moreover, the radiation coupling and efficiency can be engineered acting on the design of the loop antenna, similarly to conventional RF antennas.
Here we take advantage of this rich playground in the context of cavity electrodynamics/intersubband polaritonics. In the strong light−matter coupling regime, a cavity and a two-level system exchange energy coherently at a characteristic rate called the vacuum Rabi frequency ΩR which is dominant with respect to all other loss mechanisms involved. The signature, in the frequency domain, is the appearance of a splitting between the bare cavity and material system resonances: the new states are called upper and a lower polariton branches.
So far, most experimental demonstrations of strong light−matter interaction between an intersubband transition and a deeply sub-wavelength mode in the THz or mid-infrared ranges rely on wavelength-scale or larger resonators such as photonic crystals, diffractive gratings, dielectric micro-cavities or patch cavities. Lately, planar metamaterials have been used to enhance the light-matter interaction and strongly reduce the interaction volume by engineering the electric and magnetic resonances of the individual subwavelength constituents. In this contribution we provide evidence of strong coupling between a THz intersubband transition and an extremely sub-wavelength mode (≈λ/10) within our recently developed 3D meta-atoms. A GaAs/AlGaAs parabolic quantum well is used as semiconductor active core to observe the strong coupling regime up to room temperature, as the structure ensures by design a sufficiently large useful electron population irrespective of temperature. In contrast with the previous metamaterial paradigm, the electrical dipoles responsible for the light-matter excitation are now exactly confined in the capacitive region of each meta-atom. Remarkably, we will show that we can modulate the light-matter interaction solely via the external inductor/antenna element while keeping the interaction volume (i.e. the capacitor size) unvaried. Perspectives about the exploitation of this metamaterial peculiar features (reconfigurability, dynamic tuning, …) for polaritonic devices will be discussed.
Bruno Paulillo, Jean-Michel Manceau, Lianhe Li, Edmund Linfield, and Raffaele Colombelli, "Room temperature strong light-matter coupling in 3D THz meta-atoms
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9883, Metamaterials X, 988314 (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 06, 2016; Published: 26 July 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2225210.5042345247001.
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