Researchers at Purdue University have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of thermal radiation, uncovering a new method for generating spinning thermal radiation in a controlled and efficient manner using artificially structured surfaces, known as metasurfaces.
The team, led by Zubin Jacob, Purdue's Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has published findings in the journal Science Advances, titled "Observation of non-vanishing optical helicity in thermal radiation from symmetry-broken metasurfaces."
Thermal radiation, which originates from random fluctuations in materials, is traditionally considered an incoherent signal. Most conventional thermal emitters show weak to zero circular polarization in the emitted heat. Surprisingly, the thermal radiation reaching the earth from many astronomical objects possesses significant circular polarization. This intriguing phenomenon leads to the discovery of strong magnetic fields in some condensed stars, offers explanations of puzzles about the early universe, and even provides a possible signature of life.
"Spinning thermal radiation is extremely rare in nature and is only found in some condensed stars," Jacob said. "Our work provides a new way to generate this type of radiation, which has the potential to be used in a variety of applications, including thermal imaging and communication."
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