Researchers engineer new approach for controlling thermal emission | Science & Technology

If a material absorbs light, it will heat up. That heat must go somewhere, and the ability to control where and how much heat is emitted can protect or even hide such devices as satellites. An international team of researchers, including those from Penn State, has developed a novel method for controlling this thermal emission, with what they called promising implications for thermal management and thermal camouflage technologies.

The team published their work on June 7 in the print edition of Science.

Led by researchers at The University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute in England and the Penn State College of Engineering in the United States, with experts from Koc University in Turkey and Vienna University of Technology in Austria, the team demonstrated a way to build an interface that joins two surfaces with different geometric properties to localize thermal emissions from both surfaces, enabling a “perfect” thermal emitter. This means that the designed platform can emit thermal light from contained, designated emission areas with unit emissivity, or that the platform emits the strongest thermal radiation possible at that temperature.

“We have demonstrated a new class of thermal devices using concepts from topology — a branch of mathematics studying properties of geometric objects — and from non-Hermitian photonics, which is a flourishing area of research studying light and its interaction with matter in the presence of losses, optical gain and certain symmetries,” said corresponding author Coskun Kocabas, professor of 2D device materials at The University of Manchester.

The team said the work could advance thermal photonic applications to better generate, control and detect thermal emission. One application of this work could be in satellites, said co-author Sahin Ozdemir, professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State. Faced with significant exposure to heat and light, satellites equipped with the interface could emit the absorbed…


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