Surface plasmons1, collective oscillations of conduction electrons, hold great promise for the nanoscale integration of photonics and electronics1,2,3,4. However, nanophotonic circuits based on plasmons have been significantly hampered by the difficulty in achieving broadband plasmonic waveguides that simultaneously exhibit strong spatial confinement, a high quality factor and low dispersion. Quantum plasmons, where the quantum mechanical effects of electrons play a dominant role, such as plasmons in very small metal nanoparticles5,6 and plasmons affected by tunnelling effects7, can lead to novel plasmonic phenomena in nanostructures. Here, we show that a Luttinger liquid8,9 of one-dimensional Dirac electrons in carbon nanotubes10,11,12,13 exhibits quantum plasmons that behave qualitatively differently from classical plasmon excitations. The Luttinger-liquid plasmons propagate at ‘quantized’ velocities that are independent of carrier concentration or excitation wavelength, and simultaneously exhibit extraordinary spatial confinement and high quality factor. Such Luttinger-liquid plasmons could enable novel low-loss plasmonic circuits for the subwavelength manipulation of light.
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The authors thank M. Raschke for discussions. H.B. and M.M., in particular, thank M. Raschke and his group for the years of pioneering research on infrared near-field techniques and key collaborations that led to the development of a near-field infrared instrument at the Advanced Light Source (ALS). The authors also thank K. Liu, Y. Sun, S. Shi, C. Jin and H. Chang for their help with sample preparation and discussions. This work was primarily supported by the Office of Basic Energy Science, Department of Energy (contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231, Sub-Wavelength Metamaterial Program; contract no. DE-SC0003949, Early Career Award). Spectroscopy of nanotubes in the visible range was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant no. DMR-1404865). The ALS is supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the US Department of Energy (contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231). F.W. acknowledges support from a David and Lucile Packard fellowship.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Shi, Z., Hong, X., Bechtel, H. et al. Observation of a Luttinger-liquid plasmon in metallic single-walled carbon nanotubes. Nature Photon 9, 515–519 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2015.123
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