The control of emission and absorption of infrared light features prominently across energy, environmental, and sensing domains. Many relevant application areas—including radiative thermal management, waste heat harvesting, and thermal sensing—call for the ability to generate spectral emissivity profiles that are not found in natural materials. This is typically achieved with nano and micro-structured surfaces, yet these are one-off solutions with spectra that cannot be altered post-fabrication. The aim of this research is to study the mechanisms for optimal integration of nanostructured phase-change materials (PCMs) for achieving highly reconfigurable photonic devices. Our approach focuses on engineering the electromagnetic environment around PCM layers and components to amplify and spectrally tailor the optical contrast between accessible material phases. This work will investigate the interplay between intrinsic electrical and optical material characteristics and effective photonic properties endowed by subwavelength ordering. The goal is to develop a new class of active photonic metamaterials that can achieve target multi-state reconfigurability with very high fidelity.
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