We evaluate a recently devised design of vertical-cavity enhanced resonant thermal emitter (VERTE) regarding stability to fabrication tolerances of PVD layer deposition techniques. Such an emitter achieves narrowband and coherent thermal emission and is composed of an multilayer stack of dielectric layers (silicon and silica) on top of a reflective metal (silver) structure. The silica layer above the metal acts as a vertical cavity enhancing the electromagnetic field between the reflective metal and the dielectric stack forming a Bragg mirror (1-D photonic crystal). In our previous work, we identified several suitable five-layer-stack configurations, which considered several features and limitations of a real-world device, such as temperature dependence of the materials, fabrication constraints or unwanted emission modes. However, the emission characteristics are very sensitive to the geometrical and optical properties of the material. In order to examine this behaviour, a Monte-Carlo algorithm was used to apply a Gauss-distributed error in depth (relative the unperturbed layer thickness) for every individual layer. The robustness of the emission properties against fabrication errors were evaluated and analyzed by significant statistical quantities. As expected, the main issue compromising the emission properties is a deviation of the resonance wavelength in relation to the initial target resonance wavelength of the unperturbed configuration. Interestingly, configurations with larger average layer thicknesses and therefore with larger absolute thickness deviations did not exhibit a larger variance of the emission wavelength. Instead, the variance slightly decreased or remained constant. A similar result was obtained for increasing the number of dielectric layers. In contrast, the peak emissivity (at normal incidence) was significantly influenced by the average layer depth of a configuration. Also, the effect of broadening of the spectral emittance curve due to random thickness fluctuations was evaluated. It was found that the broadening due to relative thickness errors can be considered as negligible for most configurations.
Gerald Pühringer and Bernhard Jakoby, "Characterizing the geometrical tolerances of optimized vertical-cavity thermal emitter stack configurations for the mid-infrared via Monte Carlo testing," Proc. SPIE 10249, Integrated Photonics: Materials, Devices, and Applications IV, 102490H (Presented at SPIE Microtechnologies: May 10, 2017; Published: 30 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2265794.
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