Xueji Wang, Ryan Starko-Bowes, Chinmay Khandekar, and Zubin Jacob. 2020.

High-temperature thermal photonics

. Annual Review of Heat Transfer, 23, Pp. 355-395.

Controlling and detecting thermal radiation is of vital importance for varied applications ranging from energy conversion systems and nanoscale information processing devices to infrared imaging, spectroscopy, and sensing. We review the field of high-temperature thermal photonics, which aims to control the spectrum, polarization, tunability, switchability, and directionality of heat radiation from engineered materials in extreme environments. We summarize the candidate materials that are being pursued by the community that have simultaneous polaritonic/plasmonic properties as well as high-temperature stability. We also provide a detailed discussion of common photonic platforms, including metagratings, photonic crystals, and metamaterials used for thermal emission engineering. We review broad applications, including thermophotovoltaics, high-temperature radiative cooling, thermal radiation sources, and noisy nanoscale thermal devices. By providing an overview of the recent achievements in this field, we hope this review can accelerate progress to overcome major outstanding problems in modern thermal engineering.

See also: Thermal, Photonics


Ashwin K. Boddeti, Abubakr Alabassi, Vaneet Aggarwal, and Zubin Jacob. 11/26/2019.

Spectral domain inverse design for accelerating nanocomposite metamaterials discovery

. Optical Materials Express, 9, 12, Pp. 4765-4771.

Inverse design techniques in the context of nanophotonics have helped in discovery of compact and counter-intuitive structures/shapes. We introduce the concept of spectral domain inverse design to search through the optical trade-space (dispersive permittivity) of nanocomposite metamaterials. We develop a hybrid optimization technique that combines genetic algorithms and gradient descent methods. We utilize this technique to inverse design an ultra-thin thermophotovoltaic emitter coating material. Our work can lead to an efficient approach to search for new multi-functional optical/thermal metamaterials with desired complex permittivity.

Chinmay Khandekar and Zubin Jacob. 10/15/2019.

Thermal spin photonics in the near-field of nonreciprocal media

. New Journal of Physics, 21.

The interplay of spin angular momentum and thermal radiation is a frontier area of interest to nanophotonics as well as topological physics. Here, we show that a thick planar slab of a nonreciprocal material, despite being at thermal equilibrium with its environment, can exhibit nonzero photon spin angular momentum and nonzero radiative heat flux in its vicinity. We identify them as the persistent thermal photon spin and the persistent planar heat current respectively. With a practical example system, we reveal that the fundamental origin of these phenomena is connected to the spin-momentum locking of thermally excited evanescent waves. We also discover spin magnetic moment of surface polaritons that further clarifies these features. We then propose an imaging experiment based on Brownian motion that allows one to witness these surprising features by directly looking at them using a lab microscope. We further demonstrate the universal behavior of these near-field thermal radiation phenomena through a comprehensive analysis of gyroelectric, gyromagnetic and magneto-electric nonreciprocal materials. Together, these results expose a surprisingly little explored research area of thermal spin photonics with prospects for new avenues related to non-Hermitian topological photonics and radiative heat transport.

Farhad Khosravi, Todd Van Mechelen, and Zubin Jacob. 10/3/2019.

Dirac wire: Fermionic waveguides with longitudinal spin

. Physical Review B, 100, 15.

The interplay of photon spin and orbital angular momentum (OAM) in the optical fiber (one-dimensional waveguide) has recently risen to the forefront of quantum nanophotonics. Here, we introduce the fermionic dual of the optical fiber, the Dirac wire, which exhibits unique electronic spin and OAM properties arising from confined solutions of the Dirac equation. The Dirac wires analyzed here represent cylindrical generalizations of the Jackiw-Rebbi domain wall and the minimal topological insulator, which are of significant interest in spintronics. We show the unique longitudinal spin arising from electrons confined to propagation in a wire, an effect which is fundamentally prohibited in planar geometries. Our work sheds light on the universal spatial dynamics of electron spin in confined geometries and the duality between electronic and photonic spin.

See also: Photonics, Spin
Ryan Starko-Bowes, Xueji Wang, Zhujing Xu, Sandipan Pramanik, Na Lu, Tongcang Li, and Zubin Jacob. 10/3/2019.

High-Temperature Polaritons in Ceramic Nanotube Antennas

. Nano letters, 19, 12, Pp. 8565-8571.

High-temperature thermal photonics presents unique challenges for engineers as the database of materials that can withstand extreme environments are limited. In particular, ceramics with high temperature stability that can support coupled light-matter excitations, that is, polaritons, open new avenues for engineering radiative heat transfer. Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) is an emerging ceramic 2D material that possesses low-loss polaritons in two spectrally distinct mid-infrared frequency bands. The hyperbolic nature of these frequency bands leads to a large local density of states (LDOS). In 2D form, these polaritonic states are dark modes, bound to the material. In cylindrical form, boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) create subwavelength particles capable of coupling these dark modes to radiative ones. In this study, we leverage the high-frequency optical phonons present in BNNTs to create strong mid-IR thermal antenna emitters at high temperatures (938 K). Through direct measurement of thermal emission of a disordered system of BNNTs, we confirm their radiative polaritonic modes and show that the antenna behavior can be observed even in a disordered system. These are among the highest-frequency optical phonon polaritons that exist and could be used as high-temperature mid-IR thermal nanoantenna sources.

Chinmay Khandekar and Zubin Jacob. 7/26/2019.

Circularly Polarized Thermal Radiation From Nonequilibrium Coupled Antennas

. Physical Review Applied, 12, 1.

Circularly polarized light can be obtained by using either polarization conversion or structural chirality. Here we reveal a fundamentally unrelated mechanism of generating circularly polarized light using coupled nonequilibrium sources. We show that thermal emission from a compact dimer of subwavelength, anisotropic antennas can be highly circularly polarized when the antennas are at unequal temperatures. Furthermore, the handedness of emitted light is flipped upon interchanging the temperatures of the antennas, thereby enabling reconfigurability of the polarization state lacked by most circularly polarized light sources. We describe the fundamental origin of this mechanism using rigorous fluctuational electrodynamic analysis and further provide practical examples for its experimental implementation. Apart from the technology applications in reconfigurable devices, communication, and sensing, this work motivates new inquiries of angular-momentum-related thermal-radiation phenomena using thermal nonequilibrium, without applying magnetic field.

See also: Thermal
Zubin Jacob and Todd Van Mechelen. 6/19/2019.

Unidirectional Maxwellian spin waves

. Nanophotonics, 8, 8.

In this article, we develop a unified perspective of unidirectional topological edge waves in nonreciprocal media. We focus on the inherent role of photonic spin in nonreciprocal gyroelectric media, i.e. magnetized metals or magnetized insulators. Due to the large body of contradicting literature, we point out at the outset that these Maxwellian spin waves are fundamentally different from well-known topologically trivial surface plasmon polaritons. We first review the concept of a Maxwell Hamiltonian in nonreciprocal media, which immediately reveals that the gyrotropic coefficient behaves as a photon mass in two dimensions. Similar to the Dirac mass, this photonic mass opens bandgaps in the energy dispersion of bulk propagating waves. Within these bulk photonic bandgaps, three distinct classes of Maxwellian edge waves exist – each arising from subtle differences in boundary conditions. On one hand, the edge wave solutions are rigorous photonic analogs of Jackiw-Rebbi electronic edge states. On the other hand, for the exact same system, they can be high frequency photonic counterparts of the integer quantum Hall effect, familiar at zero frequency. Our Hamiltonian approach also predicts the existence of a third distinct class of Maxwellian edge wave exhibiting topological protection. This occurs in an intriguing topological bosonic phase of matter, fundamentally different from any known electronic or photonic medium. The Maxwellian edge state in this unique quantum gyroelectric phase of matter necessarily requires a sign change in gyrotropy arising from nonlocality (spatial dispersion). In a Drude system, this behavior emerges from a spatially dispersive cyclotron frequency that switches sign with momentum. A signature property of these topological electromagnetic edge states is that they are oblivious to the contacting medium, i.e. they occur at the interface of the quantum gyroelectric phase and any medium (even vacuum). This is because the edge state satisfies open boundary conditions – all components of the electromagnetic field vanish at the interface. Furthermore, the Maxwellian spin waves exhibit photonic spin-1 quantization in exact analogy with their supersymmetric spin-1/2 counterparts. The goal of this paper is to discuss these three foundational classes of edge waves in a unified perspective while providing in-depth derivations, taking into account nonlocality and various boundary conditions. Our work sheds light on the important role of photonic spin in condensed matter systems, where this definition of spin is also translatable to topological photonic crystals and metamaterials.

See also: Topological, Spin, Photonics
Todd Van Mechelen and Zubin Jacob. 5/28/2019.

Nonlocal topological electromagnetic phases of matter

. Physical Review B, 99, 20.

In (2+1)-dimensional materials, nonlocal topological electromagnetic phases are defined as atomic-scale media which host photonic monopoles in the bulk band structure and respect bosonic symmetries (e.g., time reversal T2=+1). Additionally, they support topologically protected spin-1 edge states, which are fundamentally different than spin-12 and pseudo-spin-12 edge states arising in fermionic and pseudofermionic systems. The striking feature of the edge state is that all electric and magnetic field components vanish at the boundary, in stark contrast to analogs of Jackiw-Rebbi domain wall states. This surprising open boundary solution of Maxwell's equations, dubbed the quantum gyroelectric effect [Phys. Rev. A 98, 023842 (2018)], is the supersymmetric partner of the topological Dirac edge state where the spinor wave function completely vanishes at the boundary. The defining feature of such phases is the presence of temporal and spatial dispersion in conductivity (the linear response function). In this paper, we generalize these topological electromagnetic phases beyond the continuum approximation to the exact lattice field theory of a periodic atomic crystal. To accomplish this, we put forth the concept of microscopic photonic band structure of solids, analogous to the traditional theory of electronic band structure. Our definition of topological invariants utilizes optical Bloch modes and can be applied to naturally occurring crystalline materials. For the photon propagating within a periodic atomic crystal, our theory shows that besides the Chern invariant C∈Z, there are also symmetry-protected topological (SPT) invariants ν∈ZN which are related to the cyclic point group CN of the crystal ν=CmodN. Due to the rotational symmetries of light R(2π)=+1, these SPT phases are manifestly bosonic and behave very differently from their fermionic counterparts R(2π)=−1 encountered in conventional condensed-matter systems. Remarkably, the nontrivial bosonic phases ν≠0 are determined entirely from rotational (spin-1) eigenvalues of the photon at high-symmetry points in the Brillouin zone. Our work accelerates progress toward the discovery of bosonic phases of matter where the electromagnetic field within an atomic crystal exhibits topological properties.

See also: Topological, Spin
Farhad Khosravi, Cristian L. Cortes, and Zubin Jacob. 5/27/2019.

Spin photonics in 3D whispering gallery mode resonators

. Optics Express, 27, 11, Pp. 15846-15855.

Whispering gallery modes are known for possessing orbital angular momentum, however the interplay of local spin density, orbital angular momentum, and the near-field interaction with quantum emitters is far less explored. Here, we study the spin-orbit interaction of a circularly polarized dipole with the whispering gallery modes (WGMs) of a spherical resonator. Using an exact dyadic Green’s function approach, we show that the near-field interaction between the photonic spin of a circularly polarized dipole and the local electromagnetic spin density of whispering gallery modes gives rise to unidirectional behaviour where modes with either positive or negative orbital angular momentum are excited. We show that this is a manifestation of spin-momentum locking with the whispering gallery modes of the spherical resonator. We also discuss requirements for possible experimental demonstrations using Zeeman transitions in cold atoms or quantum dots, and outline potential applications of these previously overlooked properties. Our work firmly establishes local spin density, momentum and decay as a universal right-handed electromagnetic triplet for near-field light-matter interaction.

See also: Spin, Photonics
Li-Ping Yang and Zubin Jacob. 4/1/2019.

Quantum critical detector: amplifying weak signals using discontinuous quantum phase transitions

. Optics Express, 27, 8, Pp. 10482-10494.

We propose a quantum critical detector (QCD) to amplify weak input signals. Our detector exploits a first-order discontinuous quantum-phase-transition and exhibits giant sensitivity (χ ∝ N2) when biased at the critical point. We propose a model consisting of spins with long-range interactions coupled to a bosonic mode to describe the time-dynamics in the QCD. We numerically demonstrate dynamical features of the first order (discontinuous) quantum phase transition such as time-dependent quantum gain in a system with 80 interacting spins. We also show the linear scaling with the spin number N in both the quantum gain and the corresponding signal-to-quantum noise ratio during the time evolution of the device. Our work shows that engineering first order discontinuous quantum phase transitions can lead to a device application for metrology, weak signal amplification, and single photon detection.

See also: Quantum, Spin