Thermodynamic Upper Bound on Broadband Light Coupling with Photonic Structures

Zongfu Yu, Aaswath Raman, Shanhui Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The coupling between free space radiation and optical media critically influences the performance of optical devices. We show that, for any given photonic structure, the sum of the external coupling rates for all its optical modes are subject to an upper bound dictated by the second law of thermodynamics. Such bound limits how efficient light can be coupled to any photonic structure. As one example of application, we use this upper bound to derive the limit of light absorption in broadband solar absorbers. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
StatePublished - Oct 23 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUSC1-015-21
Acknowledgements: This work was supported in part by the Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics (Grant No. KUSC1-015-21), made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and by Department of Energy Grant No. DE-FG02-07ER46426. A. R. also acknowledges the support of the Alberta Scholarship Programs Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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