EQUATE engineer on international research team published in February 23 issue of Nature

February 24, 2022

Mathias Schubert added his leading expertise in ellipsometry – measuring the change in polarization as light reflects or transmits from a material structure – to an international team including scientists from Germany’s Max Planck Society, for research that appears in the highly-regarded journal, Nature


The resulting article, Hyperbolic shear polaritons in low-symmetry crystals, was published in the February 23, 2022 edition of the publication. The article’s authors believe their “results will motivate new directions for polariton physics in low-symmetry materials, which include geological minerals, many common oxides, and organic crystals, greatly expanding the material base and extending design opportunities for compact photonic devices.


“Compact photonic devices which can collect, transmit, and compute information will become much more widespread in daily life, for example, in biomedical applications perhaps in support of virtual hospital platforms,” Schubert said. He noted a key beneficial outcome from this team’s work: “Photonic devices may not require batteries or as much electricity as conventional electronic devices. Our discovery has widened the toolbox for design engineers to create such devices with improved properties.”


Schubert is the JA Woollam Professor of Engineering with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His work on the article’s research was supported by his participation in Nebraska’s Emergent Quantum Materials and Technologies (EQUATE) project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).


In my view we have gained an important insight into one of the fundamentally new properties which low symmetry materials such as gallium oxide have to offer,” said Schubert. We have learned that the low symmetry of the local lattice structure not only affects known physical properties, the breaking of symmetry of the crystal structure permits the observation of new phenomena unseen thus far.“


“(In this work), we observed a coupled particle consisting of phonons and photons which moves sideways as it propagates forward. In our NSF-funded EQUATE quantum materials work at Nebraska, we have identified gallium oxide as a novel source for engineered quantum devices where single specifically inserted defects can serve as a carrier of quantum information,” he added. “We know now that we must anticipate that such quantum information will interact within a non-trivial lattice symmetry, and which we will need to characterize properly. We also need to develop the correct quantum mechanical model descriptions for such new quantum systems. This progress directly propels efforts toward our goals in EQUATE.