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Dynamic modulation of thermal emission -- a Tutorial

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posted on 2023-01-10, 02:56 authored by Michela Florinda Picardi, Kartika Narayan Nimje, Georgia T. Papadakis
Thermal emission is typically associated with a blackbody at a temperature above absolute zero, which exchanges energy with its environment in the form of radiation. Blackbody thermal emission is largely incoherent both spatially and temporally. Using principles in nanophotonics, thermal emission with characteristics that differ considerably from those of a blackbody have been demonstrated. In particular, by leveraging intrinsic properties of emerging materials or via nanostructuring at the wavelength or sub-wavelength scale, one can gain control over the directionality, temporal coherence, and other more exotic properties of thermal radiation. Typically, however, these are fixed at the time of fabrication. Gaining dynamic control of thermal emission requires exploiting external mechanisms that actively modulate radiative properties. Numerous applications can benefit from such thermal emission control, for example in solar energy harvesting, thermo-photovoltaic energy conversion, radiative cooling, sensing, spectroscopy, imaging and thermal camouflage. In this tutorial, we introduce thermal emission in two domains: the far-field, and the near-field, and we outline experimental approaches for probing thermal radiation in both ranges. We discuss ways for tailoring the spatial and temporal coherence of thermal emission and present available mechanisms to actively tune these characteristics.



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