Have you ever wondered how thermal radiation works? Researchers at Purdue University have made a remarkable breakthrough in the field of thermal radiation, uncovering a new method for generating spinning thermal radiation in a controlled and efficient manner. This is an exciting discovery with huge implications for our understanding of thermal radiation and its potential applications in various fields.
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team, led by Zubin Jacob, Purdue’s Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, revealed their findings titled “Observation of non-vanishing optical helicity in thermal radiation from symmetry-broken metasurfaces.”
Thermal radiation, which is emitted from random fluctuations in materials, is traditionally considered an incoherent signal. However, the thermal radiation reaching the Earth from many astronomical objects has been found to have significant circular polarization. This phenomenon has been used to explain puzzles about the early universe and even provides a possible signature of life.
The researchers discovered that by using a metasurface made up of an array of F-shaped structures, they were able to generate predominantly left-handed circularly polarized thermal radiation in all directions, resulting in non-vanishing optical helicity for the first time. This has the potential to be used in a variety of applications, such as thermal imaging and communication.
The team reached 39% of the fundamental limit in optical helicity with their design and showed that the characteristics of emitted thermal photons can be tailored by the symmetries of the metasurface, demonstrating effective control over thermal radiation in its various properties. Potential applications include using the metasurface as a wide-angle, narrow-band circular-polarized mid-infrared light source for optical gas sensing and infrared imaging.
The researchers are excited about the potential of their discovery and believe that it could have a significant impact on our understanding of thermal radiation and the development of new technologies. The research was funded by the DARPA Nascent Light Matter Interaction (NLM) program.
If you are interested in learning more about this groundbreaking discovery, then read on to find out how Purdue University researchers have unlocked the potential of thermal radiation.