Over the past 15 years there has been an ongoing debate regarding the influence of the photonic environment on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). Disparate results corresponding to enhancement, suppression and null effect of the photonic environment have led to a lack of consensus between the traditional theory of FRET and experiments. Here we show that the quantum electrodynamic theory (QED) of FRET near an engineered nanophotonic environment is exactly equivalent to an effective near-field model describing electrostatic dipole-dipole interactions. This leads to an intuitive and rigorously exact description of FRET, previously unavailable, bridging the gap between experimental observations and theoretical interpretations. Furthermore, we show that the widely used concept of Purcell factor variation is only important for understanding spontaneous emission and is an incorrect figure of merit (FOM) for analyzing FRET. To this end, we analyze the figures of merit which characterize FRET in a photonic environment 1) the FRET rate enhancement factor (FET), 2) FRET efficiency enhancement factor (Feff) and 3) Two-point spectral density (SEE) which is the photonic property of the environment governing FRET analogous to the local density of states that controls spontaneous emission. Counterintuitive to existing knowledge, we show that suppression of the Purcell factor is in fact necessary for enhancing the efficiency of the FRET process. We place fundamental bounds on the FRET figures of merit arising from material absorption in the photonic environment as well as key properties of emitters including intrinsic quantum efficiencies and orientational dependence. Finally, we use our approach to conclusively explain multiple recent experiments and predict regimes where the FRET rate is expected to be enhanced, suppressed or remain the same. Our work paves for a complete theory of FRET with predictive power for designing the ideal photonic environment to control FRET.
An optical topological transition is defined as the change in the photonic iso-frequency surface around epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) frequencies which can considerably change the spontaneous emission of a quantum emitter placed near a metamaterial slab. Here, we show that due to the strong Kerr nonlinearity at ENZ frequencies, a high-power pulse can induce a sudden transition in the topology of the iso-frequency dispersion curve, leading to a significant change in the transmission of propagating as well as evanescent waves through the metamaterial slab. This evanescent wave switch effect allows for the control of spontaneous emission through modulation of the Purcell effect. We develop a theory of the enhanced nonlinear response of ENZ media to s and p polarized inputs and show that this nonlinear effect is stronger for p polarization and is almost independent of the incident angle. We perform finite-difference time-domain simulations to demonstrate the transient response of the metamaterial slab to an ultrafast pulse and fast switching of the Purcell effect at the sub-picosecond scale. The Purcell factor changes at ENZ by almost a factor of three which is an order of magnitude stronger than that away from ENZ. We also show that due to the inhomogeneous spatial field distribution inside the multilayer metal-dielectric super-lattice, a unique spatial topological transition metamaterial can be achieved by the control pulse induced nonlinearity. Our work can lead to ultra-fast control of quantum phenomena in ENZ metamaterials.
Ultra-compact, densely integrated optical components manufactured on a CMOS-foundry platform are highly desirable for optical information processing and electronic-photonic co-integration. However, the large spatial extent of evanescent waves arising from nanoscale confinement, ubiquitous in silicon photonic devices, causes significant cross-talk and scattering loss. Here, we demonstrate that anisotropic all-dielectric metamaterials open a new degree of freedom in total internal reflection to shorten the decay length of evanescent waves. We experimentally show the reduction of cross-talk by greater than 30 times and the bending loss by greater than 3 times in densely integrated, ultra-compact photonic circuit blocks. Our prototype all-dielectric metamaterial-waveguide achieves a low propagation loss of approximately 3.7±1.0 dB/cm, comparable to those of silicon strip waveguides. Our approach marks a departure from interference-based confinement as in photonic crystals or slot waveguides, which utilize nanoscale field enhancement. Its ability to suppress evanescent waves without substantially increasing the propagation loss shall pave the way for all-dielectric metamaterial-based dense integration.
Thermal radiation from an unpatterned object is similar to that of a gray body. The thermal emission is insensitive to polarization, shows only Lambertian angular dependence, and is well modeled as the product of the blackbody distribution and a scalar emissivity over large frequency bands. Here, we design, fabricate and experimentally characterize the spectral, polarization, angular and temperature dependence of a microstructured SiC dual band thermal infrared source; achieving independent control of the frequency and polarization of thermal radiation in two spectral bands. The measured emission of the device in the Reststrahlen band (10.3–12.7 µm) selectively approaches that of a blackbody, peaking at an emissivity of 0.85 at λx=11.75μm and 0.81 at λy=12.25μm. This effect arises due to the thermally excited phonon polaritons in silicon carbide. The control of thermal emission properties exhibited by the design is well suited for applications requiring infrared sources, gas or temperature sensors and nanoscale heat transfer. Our work paves the way for future silicon carbide based thermal metasurfaces.
Nanoscale metamaterials exhibit extraordinary optical properties and are proposed for various technological applications. Here, a new class of novel nanoscale two-phase hybrid metamaterials is achieved by combining two major classes of traditional plasmonic materials, metals (e.g., Au) and transition metal nitrides (e.g., TaN, TiN, and ZrN) in an epitaxial thin film form via the vertically aligned nanocomposite platform. By properly controlling the nucleation of the two phases, the nanoscale artificial plasmonic lattices (APLs) consisting of highly ordered hexagonal close packed Au nanopillars in a TaN matrix are demonstrated. More specifically, uniform Au nanopillars with an average diameter of 3 nm are embedded in epitaxial TaN platform and thus form highly 3D ordered APL nanoscale metamaterials. Novel optical properties include highly anisotropic reflectance, obvious nonlinear optical properties indicating inversion symmetry breaking of the hybrid material, large permittivity tuning and negative permittivity response over a broad wavelength regime, and superior mechanical strength and ductility. The study demonstrates the novelty of the new hybrid plasmonic scheme with great potentials in versatile material selection, and, tunable APL spacing and pillar dimension, all important steps toward future designable hybrid plasmonic materials.
Single atoms form a model system for understanding the limits of single-photon detection. Here, we develop a non-Markovian theory of single-photon absorption by a two-level atom to place limits on the absorption (transduction) time. We show the existence of a finite rise time in the probability of excitation of the atom during the absorption event which is infinitely fast in previous Markov theories. This rise time is governed by the bandwidth of the atom-field interaction spectrum and leads to a fundamental jitter in time stamping the absorption event. Our theoretical framework captures both the weak and strong atom-field coupling regimes and sheds light on the spectral matching between the interaction bandwidth and single-photon Fock state pulse spectrum. Our work opens questions whether such jitter in the absorption event can be observed in a multimode realistic single-photon detector. Finally, we also shed light on the fundamental differences between linear and nonlinear detector outputs for single-photon Fock-state vs coherent-state pulses.
Super-Planckian near-field radiative heat transfer allows effective heat transfer between a hot and a cold body to increase beyond the limits long known for black bodies. Until present, experimental techniques to measure the radiative heat flow relied on steady-state systems. Here, we present a dynamic measurement approach based on the transient plane source technique, which extracts thermal properties from a temperature transient caused by a step input power function. Using this versatile method, that requires only single sided contact, we measure enhanced radiative conduction up to 16 times higher than the blackbody limit on centimeter sized glass samples without any specialized sample preparation or nanofabrication.
Alberta has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Large-scale commercial oil production from oil sands in Alberta for the past 40 years has led to accumulation of tailings water in tailings ponds covering areas ranging over 150 km2. Less than 1% of this area has been certified as reclaimed leading to both economic and environmental consequences. Research is underway to reduce tailings ponds reclamation time from decades to weeks by developing new polymer flocculants, better tailings treatment methods and recovering bitumen from tailings. Information about impact of residual bitumen on the shear strength, trafficability, densification, hydraulic conductivity, consolidation, post-reclamation settlement for oil sands tailings is insufficient. Outstanding challenges exist in understanding bitumen and clay interaction in tailings to help with the development of techniques which accelerate clay sedimentation and enhance bitumen recovery. To shed light on the bitumen-clay interactions, here we develop advanced three-dimensional optical tomography approaches approaching sub-micron resolution. In this paper, we report, the first ever Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) microscope tomography for Mature Fine Tailings (MFT) samples to reveal bitumen distribution on clay in MFT. We employ a unique evanescent wave illumination approach as opposed to conventional fluorescence microscopy with enhanced axial resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio. The resolution of TIRF is further improved by using an Axial Super-Resolution Evanescent-wave Tomography (AxSET) technique. The information obtained from this study not only gives evidence of the presence of hydrophilic and oleophilic clays but with aid of 3D reconstruction using advance image processing also validates that bitumen is partially coating some of clay surfaces, thus verifying the presence of biwettable clays in oil sands MFT. The advances from our imaging work can aid the development of bitumen recovery techniques for environmental and economic impact.
Strong nanoscale light–matter interaction is often accompanied by ultraconfined photonic modes and large momentum polaritons existing far beyond the light cone. A direct probe of such phenomena is difficult due to the momentum mismatch of these modes with free space light, however, fast electron probes can reveal the fundamental quantum and spatially dispersive behavior of these excitations. Here, we use momentum-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy (q-EELS) in a transmission electron microscope to explore the optical response of plasmonic thin films including momentum transfer up to wavevectors (q) significantly exceeding the light line wave vector. We show close agreement between experimental q-EELS maps, theoretical simulations of fast electrons passing through thin films and the momentum-resolved photonic density of states (q-PDOS) dispersion. Although a direct link between q-EELS and the q-PDOS exists for an infinite medium, here we show fundamental differences between q-EELS measurements and the q-PDOS that must be taken into consideration for realistic finite structures with no translational invariance along the direction of electron motion. Our work paves the way for using q-EELS as the preeminent tool for mapping the q-PDOS of exotic phenomena with large momenta (high-q) such as hyperbolic polaritons and spatially dispersive plasmons.
The key feature of a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) emitter is the enhancement of thermal emission corresponding to energies just above the bandgap of the absorbing photovoltaic cell and simultaneous suppression of thermal emission below the bandgap. We show here that a single layer plasmonic coating can perform this task with high efficiency. Our key design principle involves tuning the epsilon-near-zero frequency (plasma frequency) of the metal acting as a thermal emitter to the electronic bandgap of the semiconducting cell. This approach utilizes the change in the reflectivity of a metal near its plasma frequency (epsilon-near-zero frequency) to lead to spectrally selective thermal emission, and can be adapted to large area coatings using high temperature plasmonic materials. We provide a detailed analysis of the spectral and angular performance of high temperature plasmonic coatings as TPV emitters. We show the potential of such high temperature plasmonic thermal emitter coatings (p-TECs) for narrowband near-field thermal emission. We also show the enhancement of near-surface energy density in graphene-multilayer thermal metamaterials due to a topological transition at an effective epsilon-near-zero frequency. This opens up spectrally selective thermal emission from graphene multilayers in the infrared frequency regime. Our design paves the way for the development of single layer p-TECs and graphene multilayers for spectrally selective radiative heat transfer applications.