Optical Waveplates Based on Birefringence of Anisotropic Two-Dimensional Layered Materials

He Yang, Henri Jussila, Anton Autere, Hannu Pekka Komsa, Guojun Ye, Xianhui Chen, Tawfique Hasan, Zhipei Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Birefringence is an inherent optical property of anisotropic materials introduced by the anisotropic confinement in their crystal structures. It enables manipulation of light propagation properties (e.g., phase velocity, reflection, and refraction) for various photonic and optoelectronic applications, including waveplates and liquid crystal displays. Two-dimensional (2D) layered materials with high anisotropy are currently gaining an increasing interest for polarization-integrated nanodevice applications, which advances the research on birefringent materials. In this article, we investigate the optical birefringence of three anisotropic 2D layered materials (black phosphorus (BP), rhenium disulfide (ReS2), and rhenium diselenide (ReSe2)). We demonstrate that the birefringence in BP (∼0.245) is ∼6× larger than that of ReS2 (∼0.037) and ReSe2 (∼0.047) at 520 nm and is compared to that of the current state of the art bulk materials (e.g., CaCO3). We use these 2D materials to fabricate atomically thin optical waveplates and investigate their performance. In particular, for BP, we observe a polarization-plane rotation of ∼0.05° per atomic layer at 520 nm. Our results show that the relatively large birefringence of anisotropic 2D layered materials can enable accurate manipulation of light polarization with atomically controlled device thickness for various applications where integrated, nanoscale polarization-controllers are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3023-3030
Number of pages8
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • anisotropic
  • birefringence
  • black phosphorus
  • rhenium diselenide
  • rhenium disulfide
  • Two-Dimensional layered materials
  • waveplates

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