Quantum nonlinear mixing of thermal photons to surpass the blackbody limit

Chinmay Khandekar, Liping Yang, Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Zubin Jacob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Nearly all thermal radiation phenomena involving materials with linear response can be accurately described via semi-classical theories of light. Here, we go beyond these traditional paradigms to study a nonlinear system that, as we show, requires quantum theory of damping. Specifically, we analyze thermal radiation from a resonant system containing a χ(2) nonlinear medium and supporting resonances at frequencies ω1 and ω2 ≈ 2ω1, where both resonators are driven only by intrinsic thermal fluctuations. Within our quantum formalism, we reveal new possibilities for shaping the thermal radiation. We show that the resonantly enhanced nonlinear interaction allows frequency-selective enhancement of thermal emission through upconversion, surpassing the well-known blackbody limits associated with linear media. Surprisingly, we also find that the emitted thermal light exhibits non-trivial statistics (g(2)(0), ∼2) and biphoton intensity correlations (at two distinct frequencies). We highlight that these features can be observed in the near future by heating a properly designed nonlinear system, without the need for any external signal. Our work motivates new interdisciplinary inquiries combining the fields of nonlinear photonics, quantum optics and thermal science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2045-2059
Number of pages15
JournalOptics Express
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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