Breaking temporal symmetries for emission and absorption

  • Hadad Y
  • Soric J
  • Alu A
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Time-reversal symmetries impose stringent constraints on emission and absorption. Antennas, from radiofrequencies to optics, are bound to transmit and receive signals equally well from the same direction, making a directive antenna prone to receive echoes and reflections. Similarly, in thermodynamics Kirchhoff's law dictates that the absorptivity and emissivity are bound to be equal in reciprocal systems at equilibrium, [Formula: see text], with important consequences for thermal management and energy applications. This bound requires that a good absorber emits a portion of the absorbed energy back to the source, limiting its overall efficiency. Recent works have shown that weak time modulation or mechanical motion in suitably designed structures may largely break reciprocity and time-reversal symmetry. Here we show theoretically and experimentally that a spatiotemporally modulated device can be designed to have drastically different emission and absorption properties. The proposed concept may provide significant advances for compact and efficient radiofrequency communication systems, as well as for energy harvesting and thermal management when translated to infrared frequencies.

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  • Yakir Hadad

  • Jason C. Soric

  • Andrea Alu

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