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Mid-infrared optics using dielectrics with refractive indices below unity
preprintposted on 2023-11-30, 05:28 authored by Alireza Shahsafi, Yuzhe Xiao, Jad Salman, Bradley S. Gundlach, Chenghao Wan, Patrick J. Roney, Mikhail A. Kats
Conventional transparent materials at optical frequencies have refractive index values (n) greater than unity -- most commonly between about 1 and 4. This paper explores optical phenomena made possible by using materials with refractive indices less than unity. We focus primarily on fused silica (SiO2), a polar dielectric with strong phonon resonances in the mid infrared that result in a spectral region in which n < 1 with modest optical loss. Using this ubiquitous easy-to-deposit material, we demonstrate infrared-frequency external reflection, frustrated external reflection, and direct coupling to surface plasmon polaritons from free space. Our work suggests that materials with refractive indices below unity can bring significant new functionality to optical devices.