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Enabling high-temperature nanophotonics for energy applications

Yeng, Yi Xiang, Ghebrebrhan, Michael, Bermel, Peter, Chan, Walker R., Joannopoulos, John D., Soljačić, Marin, Celanovic, Ivan
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2012 v.109 no.7 pp. 2280-2285
absorption, chemical reactions, energy conversion, evaporation, melting, optical properties, roughness, tungsten, wavelengths
The nascent field of high-temperature nanophotonics could potentially enable many important solid-state energy conversion applications, such as thermophotovoltaic energy generation, selective solar absorption, and selective emission of light. However, special challenges arise when trying to design nanophotonic materials with precisely tailored optical properties that can operate at high-temperatures (> 1,100 K). These include proper material selection and purity to prevent melting, evaporation, or chemical reactions; severe minimization of any material interfaces to prevent thermomechanical problems such as delamination; robust performance in the presence of surface diffusion; and long-range geometric precision over large areas with severe minimization of very small feature sizes to maintain structural stability. Here we report an approach for high-temperature nanophotonics that surmounts all of these difficulties. It consists of an analytical and computationally guided design involving high-purity tungsten in a precisely fabricated photonic crystal slab geometry (specifically chosen to eliminate interfaces arising from layer-by-layer fabrication) optimized for high performance and robustness in the presence of roughness, fabrication errors, and surface diffusion. It offers near-ultimate short-wavelength emittance and low, ultra-broadband long-wavelength emittance, along with a sharp cutoff offering 4:1 emittance contrast over 10% wavelength separation. This is achieved via Q-matching, whereby the absorptive and radiative rates of the photonic crystal’s cavity resonances are matched. Strong angular emission selectivity is also observed, with short-wavelength emission suppressed by 50% at 75° compared to normal incidence. Finally, a precise high-temperature measurement technique is developed to confirm that emission at 1,225 K can be primarily confined to wavelengths shorter than the cutoff wavelength.