Recent experiments1,2,3,4 have demonstrated that radiative heat transfer between objects separated by nanometre-scale gaps considerably exceeds the predictions of far-field radiation theories5. Exploiting this near-field enhancement is of great interest for emerging technologies such as near-field thermophotovoltaics and nano-lithography6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 because of the expected increases in efficiency, power conversion or resolution in these applications7,11. Past measurements, however, were performed using tip-plate or sphere-plate configurations and failed to realize the orders of magnitude increases in radiative heat currents predicted from near-field radiative heat transfer theory9,14. Here, we report 100- to 1,000-fold enhancements (at room temperature) in the radiative conductance between parallel-planar surfaces at gap sizes below 100 nm, in agreement with the predictions of near-field theories9,14. Our measurements were performed in vacuum gaps between prototypical materials (SiO2–SiO2, Au–Au, SiO2–Au and Au–Si) using two microdevices and a custom-built nanopositioning platform15, which allows precise control over a broad range of gap sizes (from <100 nm to 10 μm). Our experimental set-up will enable systematic studies of a variety of near-field-based thermal phenomena16,17,18, with important implications for thermophotovoltaic applications7,19,20, that have been predicted but have defied experimental verification.
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P.R. and E.M. acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (award nos. CBET 1235691 and CBET 1509691; nanopositioning platform). P.R. acknowledges support from DOE–BES through a grant from the Scanning Probe Microscopy Division (award no. DE-SC0004871; instrumentation). The authors thank J.C. Cuevas for discussions, and acknowledge the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF) for facilitating the nanofabrication of devices.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Song, B., Thompson, D., Fiorino, A. et al. Radiative heat conductances between dielectric and metallic parallel plates with nanoscale gaps. Nature Nanotech 11, 509–514 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2016.17
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