Observation of Non-vanishing Optical Helicity in Thermal Radiation from Symmetry-Broken Metasurfaces

Xueji Wang, Tyler Sentz, Sathwik Bharadwaj, Yifan Wang, Limei Qi, and Zubin Jacob. 5/12/2022. Observation of Non-vanishing Optical Helicity in Thermal Radiation from Symmetry-Broken Metasurfaces. arXiv.
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Abstract

Thermal radiation is traditionally an incoherent radiative signal, where the radiated heat is highly unpolarized, spectrally broad, and omnidirectional. The recent extensive interests in thermal photonics focus on tailoring the temporal coherence (spectrum) and spatial coherence (directivity) of thermal radiation. Here, we investigate the photon spin characteristics of the radiation excited by thermal fluctuations using a symmetrybroken metasurface. Utilizing spin-polarized angle-resolved thermal emission spectroscopy (SPARTES), we explicitly show when both mirror- and inversion- symmetries are broken, the summation of spin-angular momentum projected on wavevectors, namely the optical helicity, can be non-vanishing even without applying a magnetic field. We find the photon spin and the energy-momentum dispersion of thermal radiation can be effectively tailored through symmetry engineering. Our results firmly suggest the symmetry-based strategy provides a general pathway for comprehensively controlling the temporal, spatial, and especially spin coherence of thermal radiation.

Last updated on 05/15/2022