Light emission and absorption is fundamentally a joint property of both an emitter and its optical environment. Nevertheless, because of the much smaller momenta of photons compared with electrons at similar energies, the optical environment typically modifies only the emission/absorption rates, leaving the emitter transition frequencies practically an intrinsic property. We show here that surface polaritons, exemplified by graphene plasmons, but also valid for other types of polariton, enable substantial and tunable control of the transition frequencies of a nearby quantum well, demonstrating a sharp break with the emitter-centric view. Central to this result is the large momenta of surface polaritons that can approach the momenta of electrons and impart a pronounced non-local behaviour to the quantum well. This work facilitates non-vertical optical transitions in solids and empowers ongoing efforts to access such transitions in indirect-bandgap materials, such as silicon, as well as enriching the study of non-locality in photonics.
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The authors thank M. Hoffman for the illustration in Fig. 1a and R. Tenne for his advice. The research of J.D.J. and M.S. was supported as part of the Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies under contract no. W911NF-18-2-0048 (photon management for developing nuclear-TPV and fuel-TPV mm-scale-systems), and also supported as part of the S3TEC, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy under grant no. DE-SC0001299 (for fundamental photon transport related to solar TPVs and solar-TEs). The research of M.O. was supported by the the Israeli ICore Excellence Center ‘Circle of Light’. N.R. was supported by Department of Energy Fellowship DE-FG02-97ER25308. T.C. acknowledges support from the Danish Council for Independent Research (grant no. DFF–6108-00667). I.K. was supported by the Azrieli foundation as an Azrieli Fellow, and was partially supported by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Research Council (FP7-Marie Curie IOF) under grant no. 328853-MC-BSiCS.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Kurman, Y., Rivera, N., Christensen, T. et al. Control of semiconductor emitter frequency by increasing polariton momenta. Nature Photon 12, 423–429 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-018-0176-6
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