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Optical antenna thermal emitters

Nature Photonics volume 3, pages 658661 (2009) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Optical antennas are a critical component in nanophotonics research1 and have been used to enhance nonlinear2,3 and Raman4 cross-sections and to make nanoscale optical probes5. In addition to their ‘receiving’ properties, optical antennas can operate in ‘broadcasting’ mode, and have been used to modify the emission rate6 and direction7 of individual molecules. In these applications the antenna must operate at frequencies given by existing light emitters. Using thermal excitation of optical antennas, we bypass this limitation and realize emitters at infrared frequencies where sources are less readily available. Specifically, we show that the thermal emission from a single SiC whisker antenna is attributable to well-defined, size-tunable Mie resonances8. Furthermore, we derive a fundamental limit on the antenna emittance and argue theoretically that these structures are nearly ideal black-body antennas. Combined with advancing progress in antenna design, these results could lead to optical antenna emitters operating throughout the infrared frequency range.

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Acknowledgements

We thank R. Zia for many helpful discussions. This work was supported by Northrop Grumman's Space Technology Research Labs and a US Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (F49550-04-1-0437).

Author information

Author notes

    • Thomas Taubner

    Present address: Institute of Physics (IA), RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany

Affiliations

  1. Geballe Lab for Advanced Materials, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94306, USA

    • Jon A. Schuller
    • , Thomas Taubner
    •  & Mark L. Brongersma

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Contributions

J.A.S. and M.L.B. conceived the experiments. J.A.S. and T.T. designed the experimental apparatus. J.A.S. conducted the experiments and calculations. J.A.S. and M.L.B. co-wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Thomas Taubner or Mark L. Brongersma.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2009.188

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