Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. M. Pinar Mengüç


This dissertation focuses on near-field radiative transfer, which can be defined as the discipline concerned with energy transfer via electromagnetic waves at sub-wavelength distances. Three specific subjects related to this discipline are investigated, namely nearfield thermal radiation, nanoscale-gap thermophotovoltaic (nano-TPV) power generation and optical characterization. An algorithm for the solution of near-field thermal radiation problems in one-dimensional layered media is developed, and several tests are performed showing the accuracy, consistency and versatility of the procedure. The possibility of tuning near-field radiative heat transfer via thin films supporting surface phononpolaritons (SPhPs) in the infrared is afterwards investigated via the computation of the local density of electromagnetic states and the radiative heat flux between two films. Results reveal that due to SPhP coupling, fine tuning of near-field radiative heat transfer is possible by solely varying the structure of the system, the structure being the film thicknesses and their distance of separation. The coexistence of two regimes of near-field thermal radiation between two thin films of silicon carbide is demonstrated via numerical simulations and an asymptotic analysis of the radiative heat transfer coefficient. The impacts of thermal effects on the performances of nano-TPV power generators are investigated via the solution of the coupled near-field thermal radiation, charge and heat transport problem. The viability of nano-TPV devices proposed so far in the literature, based on a tungsten radiator at 2000 K and indium gallium antimonide cell, is questioned due to excessive heating of the junction converting thermal radiation into electricity. Using a convective thermal management system, a heat transfer coefficient as high as 105 Wm-2K-1 is required to maintain the junction at room temperature. The possibility of characterizing non-intrusively, and potentially in real-time, nanoparticles from 5 nm to 100 nm in size via scattered surface wave is explored. The feasibility of the characterization framework is theoretically demonstrated via a sensitivity analysis of the scattering matrix elements. Measurements of the scattering matrix elements for 200 nm and 50 nm gold spherical particles show the great sensitivity of the characterization tool, although an ultimate calibration is difficult with the current version of the experimental set-up.