Two Columbia Quantum Papers Made Nature Communication's Top 25 Physics Articles of 2023

Research from the groups of physicist Dmitri Basov and engineer Alexander Gaeta were among the most downloaded physics papers last year. 

March 18, 2024

Earlier this month, Nature Communications released its Top 25 Physics Articles of 2023, featuring the most downloaded physics research papers from last year. The list includes work from two Columbia Quantum faculty members: physicist Dmitri Basov and engineer Alexander Gaeta:

From the Basov Group: Hyperbolic exciton polaritons in a van der Waals magnet

Abstract: Exciton polaritons are quasiparticles of photons coupled strongly to bound electron-hole pairs, manifesting as an anti-crossing light dispersion near an exciton resonance. Highly anisotropic semiconductors with opposite-signed permittivities along different crystal axes are predicted to host exotic modes inside the anti-crossing called hyperbolic exciton polaritons (HEPs), which confine light subdiffractionally with enhanced density of states. Here, we show observational evidence of steady-state HEPs in the van der Waals magnet chromium sulfide bromide (CrSBr) using a cryogenic near-infrared near-field microscope. At low temperatures, in the magnetically-ordered state, anisotropic exciton resonances sharpen, driving the permittivity negative along one crystal axis and enabling HEP propagation. We characterize HEP momentum and losses in CrSBr, also demonstrating coupling to excitonic sidebands and enhancement by magnetic order: which boosts exciton spectral weight via wavefunction delocalization. Our findings open new pathways to nanoscale manipulation of excitons and light, including routes to magnetic, nonlocal, and quantum polaritonics.

From the Gaeta Group: Phonon-enhanced nonlinearities in hexagonal boron nitride

Abstract: Polar crystals can be driven into collective oscillations by optical fields tuned to precise resonance frequencies. As the amplitude of the excited phonon modes increases, novel processes scaling non-linearly with the applied fields begin to contribute to the dynamics of the atomic system. Here we show two such optical nonlinearities that are induced and enhanced by the strong phonon resonance in the van der Waals crystal hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). We predict and observe large sub-picosecond duration signals due to four-wave mixing (FWM) during resonant excitation. The resulting FWM signal allows for time-resolved observation of the crystal motion. In addition, we observe enhancements of third-harmonic generation with resonant pumping at the hBN transverse optical phonon. Phonon-induced nonlinear enhancements are also predicted to yield large increases in high-harmonic efficiencies beyond the third.