Optical waveguides are vital components of data communication system technologies, but their scaling down to the nanoscale has remained challenging despite advances in nano-optics and nanomaterials. Recently, we theoretically predicted that the ultimate limit of visible photon guiding can be achieved in monolayer-thick transition metal dichalcogenides. Here, we present an experimental demonstration of light guiding in an atomically thick tungsten disulfide membrane patterned as a photonic crystal structure. In this scheme, two-dimensional tungsten disulfide excitonic photoluminescence couples into quasi-guided photonic crystal modes known as resonant-type Wood’s anomalies. These modes propagate via total internal reflection with only a small portion of the light diffracted to the far field. Such light guiding at the ultimate limit provides more possibilities to miniaturize optoelectronic devices and to test fundamental physical concepts.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Access Nature and 54 other Nature Portfolio journals
Get Nature+, our best-value online-access subscription
$29.99 / 30 days
cancel any time
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$259.00 per year
only $21.58 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Similar content being viewed by others
Ye, Z. et al. Probing excitonic dark states in single-layer tungsten disulphide. Nature 513, 214–218 (2014).
Ramasubramaniam, A. Large excitonic effects in monolayers of molybdenum and tungsten dichalcogenides. Phys. Rev. B 86, 115409 (2012).
Mak, K. F. & Shan, J. Photonics and optoelectronics of 2D semiconductor transition metal dichalcogenides. Nat. Photon. 10, 216–226 (2016).
Ye, Y. et al. Monolayer excitonic laser. Nat. Photon. 9, 733–737 (2015).
Splendiani, A. et al. Emerging photoluminescence in monolayer MoS2. Nano Lett. 10, 1271–1275 (2010).
Mak, K. F., Lee, C., Hone, J., Shan, J. & Heinz, T. F. Atomically thin MoS2: a new direct-gap semiconductor. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 136805 (2010).
Tongay, S. et al. Defects activated photoluminescence in two-dimensional semiconductors: interplay between bound, charged, and free excitons. Sci. Rep. 3, 2657 (2013).
Malard, M., Alencar, T. V., Barboza, A. P. M., Mak, K. F. & de Paula, A. M. Observation of intense second harmonic generation from MoS2 atomic crystals. Phys. Rev. B 87, 201401(R) (2013).
Li, Y. et al. Probing symmetry properties of few-layer MoS2 and h-BN by optical second-harmonic generation. Nano Lett. 13, 3329–3333 (2013).
Yi, F. et al. Optomechanical enhancement of doubly resonant 2D optical nonlinearity. Nano Lett. 16, 1631–1636 (2016).
Zhang, X. et al. Unidirectional doubly enhanced MoS2 emission via photonic Fano resonances. Nano Lett. 17, 6715–6720 (2017).
Zhang, X. et al. Dynamic photochemical and optoelectronic control of photonic Fano resonances via monolayer MoS2 trions. Nano Lett. 18, 957–963 (2018).
Khurgin, J. B. Two-dimensional exciton–polariton—light guiding by transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers. Optica 2, 740 (2015).
Fan, S. & Joannopoulos, J. D. Analysis of guided resonances in photonic crystal slabs. Phys. Rev. B 65, 235112 (2002).
García de Abajo, F. J. Colloquium: light scattering by particle and hole arrays. Rev. Mod. Phys. 79, 1267–1290 (2007).
Gomez-Medina, R., Laroche, M. & Saenz, J. J. Extraordinary optical reflection from sub-wavelength cylinder arrays. Opt. Express 14, 3730–3737 (2006).
Wang, S. S. & Magnusson, R. Theory and applications of guided-mode resonance filters. Appl Opt. 32, 2606–2613 (1993).
Li, Y. et al. Measurement of the optical dielectric function of monolayer transition–metal dichalcogenides: MoS2, MoSe2, WS2, and WSe2. Phys. Rev. B 90, 205422 (2014).
Hunsperger R. G. Integrated Optics: Theory and Technology (Springer, 2009).
Crozier, K. B. et al. Air-bridged photonic crystal slabs at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. Phys. Rev. B 73, 115126 (2006).
Fan, S., Suh, W. & Joannopoulos, J. D. Temporal coupled-mode theory for the Fano resonance in optical resonators. J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 20, 569–572 (2003).
Taillaert, D. et al. An out-of-plane grating coupler for efficient butt-coupling between compact planar waveguides and single-mode fibers. IEEE J. Quantum Electron 38, 949–955 (2002).
Yang, J. et al. Wafer-scale synthesis of thickness-controllable MoS2 films via solution-processing using a dimethylformamide/n-butylamine/2-aminoethanol solvent system. Nanoscale 7, 9311–9319 (2015).
Yu, H. et al. Wafer-scale growth and transfer of highly-oriented monolayer MoS2 continuous films. ACS Nano 11, 12001–12007 (2017).
Tao, J. et al. Growth of wafer-scale MoS2 monolayer by magnetron sputtering. Nanoscale 7, 2497–2503 (2015).
This work was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the NSF 2-DARE Program (EFMA-1542879 and EFMA-1542863) and DMR-1709996. We thank R. Agarwal and R. Bratschitsch for useful discussions during the early stages of this work.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Zhang, X., De-Eknamkul, C., Gu, J. et al. Guiding of visible photons at the ångström thickness limit. Nat. Nanotechnol. 14, 844–850 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-019-0519-6
This article is cited by
Transition metal dichalcogenide metaphotonic and self-coupled polaritonic platform grown by chemical vapor deposition
Nature Communications (2022)
Nature Photonics (2022)
Nature Communications (2020)
Nature Communications (2020)
Nature Reviews Physics (2019)