Fundamental Limits to Radiative Heat Transfer: The Limited Role of Nanostructuring in the Near-Field

Prashanth S. Venkataram, Sean Molesky, Weiliang Jin, Alejandro W. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In a previous Letter, we derived fundamental limits to radiative heat transfer applicable in near- through far-field regimes, based on the choice of material susceptibilities and bounding surfaces enclosing arbitrarily shaped objects; the limits exploit algebraic properties of Maxwell's equations and fundamental principles such as electromagnetic reciprocity and passivity. In this Letter, we apply these bounds to two different geometric configurations of interest, namely dipolar particles or extended structures of infinite area in the near field of one another. We find that while near-field radiative heat transfer between dipolar particles can saturate purely geometric "Landauer" limits, bounds on extended structures cannot, instead growing very slowly with respect to a material response figure of merit (an "inverse resistivity" for metals) due to the deleterious effects of multiple scattering between bodies. While nanostructuring can produce infrared resonances, it is generally unable to further enhance the resonant energy transfer spectrum beyond what is practically achieved by planar media at the surface polariton condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013904
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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