Thermal Characterization of Heated Microcantilevers and a Study on Near-Field Radiation
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Recently, remarkable advances have been made in the understanding of micro/nanoscale energy transport, opening new opportunities in various areas such as thermal management, data storage, and energy conversion. This dissertation focuses on thermally-sensed nanotopography using a heated silicon microcantilever and near-field thermophotovoltaic (TPV) energy conversion system. A heated microcantilever is a functionalized atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilever that has a small resistive heater integrated at the free end. Besides its capability of increasing the heater temperature over 1,000 K, the resistance of a heated cantilever is a very sensitive function of temperature, suggesting that the heated cantilever can be used as a highly sensitive thermal metrology tool. The first part of the dissertation discusses the thermal characterization of the heated microcantilever for its usage as a thermal sensor in various conditions. Particularly, the use of heated cantilevers for tapping-mode topography imaging will be presented, along with the recent experimental results on the thermal interaction between the cantilever and substrate. In the second part of the dissertation, the so-called near-field TPV device is introduced. This new type of energy conversion system utilizes the significant enhancement of radiative energy transport due to photon tunneling and surface polaritons. Investigation of surface and bulk polaritons in a multilayered structure reveals that radiative properties are significantly affected by polariton excitations. The dissertation then addresses the rigorous performance analysis of the near-field TPV system and a novel design of a near-field TPV device.