Effectiveness of thin films in lieu of hyperbolic metamaterials in the near field

Owen D. Miller, Steven G. Johnson, Alejandro W. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


We show that the near-field functionality of hyperbolic metamaterials (HMM), typically proposed for increasing the photonic local density of states (LDOS), can be achieved with thin metal films. Although HMMs have an infinite density of internally propagating plane-wave states, the external coupling to nearby emitters is severely restricted. We show analytically that properly designed thin films, of thicknesses comparable to the metal size of a hyperbolic metamaterial, yield an LDOS as high as (if not higher than) that of HMMs. We illustrate these ideas by performing exact numerical computations of the LDOS of multilayer HMMs, along with their application to the problem of maximizing near-field heat transfer, to show that single-layer thin films are suitable replacements in both cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number157402
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 18 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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