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Microsecond switchable thermal antenna
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We propose a thermal antenna that can be actively switched on and off at the microsecond scale by means of a phase transition of a metal-insulator material, the vanadium dioxide (VO2). This thermal source is made of a periodically patterned tunable VO2 nanolayer, which support a surface phonon-polariton in the infrared range in their crystalline phase. Using electrodes properly registered with respect to the pattern, the VO2 phase transition can be locally triggered by ohmic heating so that the surface phonon-polariton can be diffracted by the induced grating, producing a highly directional thermal emission. Conversely, when heating less, the VO2 layers cool down below the transition temperature, the surface phonon-polariton cannot be diffracted anymore so that thermal emission is inhibited. This switchable antenna could find broad applications in the domain of active thermal coatings or in those of infrared spectroscopy and sensing.
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