We consider the design of nanostructured materials for thermal homeostasis, or the ability to maintain a temperature within a fixed range despite externally varying heat input. Our design uses nano- and microstructured phase-change materials to achieve a sharp change in thermal emission at a particular phase-transition temperature. We use electromagnetic simulations to calculate the thermal infrared absorption spectra for metal and insulator phases of the phase-change material. The results indicate a large increase in thermal emission at the phase transition. We then use numerical simulations of the heat equation to show that the sharp change in emission results in thermal homeostasis. For a varying external heat source, the material experiences much smaller temperature fluctuations than an unstructured or bulk material.
Metasurfaces offer exotic optical properties, which often originate from carefully designed material geometries. With locked geometries, these metasurfaces are difficult or impossible to change post-fabrication. Here, we theoretically explore a nano-scale coaxial structure capable of adjustably manipulating the polarization, phase, and spatial distribution of light through the introduction of parity-time (PT) symmetric perturbations. Coaxial waveguides possess degenerate modes, corresponding to different orbital angular momentum (OAM) states. The degeneracy of OAM modes can be lifted through the introduction of any non-zero amount of gain and loss into the structure in a way that matches the azimuthal periodicity of the degenerate mode pair. New hybrid complex conjugate modes are created which lose their pure OAM nature and are either amplifying or lossy. We confirm this behavior using both a Hamiltonian formulation and degenerate perturbation theory, and propose this selective excitation and absorption scheme as a new method of filtering for mode division multiplexing in on-chip nanophotonic systems. In addition to the creation of new hybrid modes, we show that these PT-symmetric perturbations in coaxial apertures are capable of converting incident circularly polarized light into linearly polarized light with unity efficiency. Further, due to the localization of field intensity within the gain sections, it is possible to rotate linear polarization and induce up to a pi-phase shift. We describe how our PT-symmetric coaxial aperture could function as a reconfigurable meta-atom for phase, amplitude, and polarization controlled meta-surfaces, and discuss routes toward unity-efficiency, reconfigurable holography.