Near-field radiative heat transfer between parallel structures in the deep subwavelength regime

Raphael St-Gelais, Linxiao Zhu, Shanhui Fan, Michal Lipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Thermal radiation between parallel objects separated by deep subwavelength distances and subject to large thermal gradients (>100...K) can reach very high magnitudes, while being concentrated on a narrow frequency distribution. These unique characteristics could enable breakthrough technologies for thermal transport control and electricity generation (for example, by radiating heat exactly at the bandgap frequency of a photovoltaic cell). However, thermal transport in this regime has never been achieved experimentally due to the difficulty of maintaining large thermal gradients over nanometre-scale distances while avoiding other heat transfer mechanisms, namely conduction. Here, we show near-field radiative heat transfer between parallel SiC nanobeams in the deep subwavelength regime. The distance between the beams is controlled by a high-precision micro-electromechanical system (MEMS). We exploit the mechanical stability of nanobeams under high tensile stress to minimize thermal buckling effects, therefore keeping control of the nanometre-scale separation even at large thermal gradients. We achieve an enhancement of heat transfer of almost two orders of magnitude with respect to the far-field limit (corresponding to a 42...nm separation) and show that we can maintain a temperature gradient of 260...K between the cold and hot surfaces at 1/4100...nm distance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-519
Number of pages5
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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