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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter June 11, 2016

Enhancing radiative energy transfer through thermal extraction

  • Yixuan Tan , Baoan Liu , Sheng Shen and Zongfu Yu
From the journal Nanophotonics


Thermal radiation plays an increasingly important role in many emerging energy technologies, such as thermophotovoltaics, passive radiative cooling and wearable cooling clothes [1]. One of the fundamental constraints in thermal radiation is the Stefan-Boltzmann law, which limits the maximum power of far-field radiation to P0 = σT4S, where σ is the Boltzmann constant, S and T are the area and the temperature of the emitter, respectively (Fig. 1a). In order to overcome this limit, it has been shown that near-field radiations could have an energy density that is orders of magnitude greater than the Stefan-Boltzmann law [2-7]. Unfortunately, such near-field radiation transfer is spatially confined and cannot carry radiative heat to the far field. Recently, a new concept of thermal extraction was proposed [8] to enhance far-field thermal emission, which, conceptually, operates on a principle similar to oil immersion lenses and light extraction in light-emitting diodes using solid immersion lens to increase light output [62].Thermal extraction allows a blackbody to radiate more energy to the far field than the apparent limit of the Stefan-Boltzmann law without breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Thermal extraction works by using a specially designed thermal extractor to convert and guide the near-field energy to the far field, as shown in Fig. 1b. The same blackbody as shown in Fig. 1a is placed closely below the thermal extractor with a spacing smaller than the thermal wavelength. The near-field coupling transfers radiative energy with a density greater than σT4. The thermal extractor, made from transparent and high-index or structured materials, does not emit or absorb any radiation. It transforms the near-field energy and sends it toward the far field. As a result, the total amount of far-field radiative heat dissipated by the same blackbody is greatly enhanced above SσT4, where S is the area of the emitter. This paper will review the progress in thermal extraction. It is organized as follows. In Section 1, we will discuss the theory of thermal extraction [8]. In Section 2, we review an experimental implementation based on natural materials as the thermal extractor [8]. Lastly, in Section 3, we review the experiment that uses structured metamaterials as thermal extractors to enhance optical density of states and far-field emission [9].


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Received: 2015-9-30
Accepted: 2016-1-12
Published Online: 2016-6-11
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

© 2016

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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