Hot Nano-Photonics: From hot carriers to hot thermal emitters

Dr. Gururaj Naik
Electrical & Computer Engineering, Rice University

Nano-photonics has enabled extreme control on the flow of light, leading to revolutionary applications including imaging, and chemical sensing. Not only does nano-photonics allow the extreme control on light flow, but also on heat flow. The interplay between light and heat at the crossroads of nano-photonics leads to many promising applications in energy conversion. In this talk, devices that allow efficient renewable energy harvesting by achieving extreme anisotropy and asymmetry, will be described.

First, I will discuss how hot carriers – commonly considered loss pathways in plasmonic devices – can convert low energy photons to higher energies. This new up-conversion scheme promises to be broadband, tunable, and an order of magnitude more efficient than existing solid-state up-conversion schemes. Next, I will describe a renewable energy harvesting device based on nano-photonic selective thermal emitters. I will show how semiconductor nano-structures enable high efficiency waste heat recovery. Finally, I will show how thermal emitters based on extremely anisotropic materials – carbon nanotubes – can revolutionize heat to electricity conversion. The extreme control on light and heat flow would open new avenues for addressing one of the greatest technological challenges of our time – providing clean energy to the world.


Dr. Gururaj Naik

Gururaj (Guru) Naik is an assistant professor at Electrical & Computer Engineering, Rice University. He received an M.E. from the Indian Institute of Science, India and a PhD from Electrical & Computer Engineering, Purdue University. During his PhD, he developed new plasmonic materials for nanophotonic applications. Guru was a post-doctoral scholar in the Dionne group at Stanford University before being a faculty at Rice. His research interests lie in the application of nanophotonic principles for energy, imaging and health. Guru is a recipient of IEEE Photonics Society Graduate Student Fellowship, an Outstanding Graduate Research award from Purdue University and a Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Science.