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Concept: Black body


Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a multifactorial, three-dimensional deformity of the spine and trunk. School scoliosis screening (SSS) is recommended by researchers as a means of early detection of AIS to prevent its progression in school-aged children. The traditional screening technique for AIS is the forward bending test because it is simple, non-invasive and inexpensive. Other tests, such as the use of Moiré topography, have reduced the high false referral rates. The use of infrared (IR) thermography for screening purposes based on the findings of previous studies on the asymmetrical paraspinal muscle activity of scoliotic patients compared with non-scoliotic subjects was explored in this study. IR thermography is performed with an IR camera to determine the temperature differences in paraspinal muscle activity. A statistical analysis showed that scoliotic subjects demonstrate a statistically significant difference between the left and right sides of the regions of interest. This difference could be due to the higher IR emission of the convex side of the observed area, thereby creating a higher temperature distribution. The findings of this study suggest the feasibility of incorporating IR thermography as part of SSS. However, future studies could also consider a larger sample of both non-scoliotic and scoliotic subjects to further validate the findings.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Vertebral column, Temperature, Black body, Infrared, Thermography, Thermal radiation


The Saharan silver ant Cataglyphis bombycina is one of the terrestrial living organisms best adapted to tolerate high temperatures. It has recently been shown that the hairs covering the ant’s dorsal body part are responsible for its silvery appearance. The hairs have a triangular cross-section with two corrugated surfaces allowing a high optical reflection in the visible and near-infrared (NIR) range of the spectrum while maximizing heat emissivity in the mid-infrared (MIR). Those two effects account for remarkable thermoregulatory properties, enabling the ant to maintain a lower thermal steady state and to cope with the high temperature of its natural habitat. In this paper, we further investigate how geometrical optical and high reflection properties account for the bright silver color of C. bombycina. Using optical ray-tracing models and attenuated total reflection (ATR) experiments, we show that, for a large range of incidence angles, total internal reflection (TIR) conditions are satisfied on the basal face of each hair for light entering and exiting through its upper faces. The reflection properties of the hairs are further enhanced by the presence of the corrugated surface, giving them an almost total specular reflectance for most incidence angles. We also show that hairs provide an almost 10-fold increase in light reflection, and we confirm experimentally that they are responsible for a lower internal body temperature under incident sunlight. Overall, this study improves our understanding of the optical mechanisms responsible for the silver color of C. bombycina and the remarkable thermoregulatory properties of the hair coat covering the ant’s body.

Concepts: Light, Refraction, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Reflection, Black body, Geometrical optics, Fresnel equations


Over the past decade, observations of giant exoplanets (Jupiter-size) have provided key insights into their atmospheres, but the properties of lower-mass exoplanets (sub-Neptune) remain largely unconstrained because of the challenges of observing small planets. Numerous efforts to observe the spectra of super-Earths-exoplanets with masses of one to ten times that of Earth-have so far revealed only featureless spectra. Here we report a longitudinal thermal brightness map of the nearby transiting super-Earth 55 Cancri e (refs 4, 5) revealing highly asymmetric dayside thermal emission and a strong day-night temperature contrast. Dedicated space-based monitoring of the planet in the infrared revealed a modulation of the thermal flux as 55 Cancri e revolves around its star in a tidally locked configuration. These observations reveal a hot spot that is located 41 ± 12 degrees east of the substellar point (the point at which incident light from the star is perpendicular to the surface of the planet). From the orbital phase curve, we also constrain the nightside brightness temperature of the planet to 1,380 ± 400 kelvin and the temperature of the warmest hemisphere (centred on the hot spot) to be about 1,300 kelvin hotter (2,700 ± 270 kelvin) at a wavelength of 4.5 micrometres, which indicates inefficient heat redistribution from the dayside to the nightside. Our observations are consistent with either an optically thick atmosphere with heat recirculation confined to the planetary dayside, or a planet devoid of atmosphere with low-viscosity magma flows at the surface.

Concepts: Sun, Temperature, Planet, Thermodynamics, Heat, Black body, Star, Extrasolar planet


The ability to engineer a thin two-dimensional surface for light trapping across an ultra-broad spectral range is central for an increasing number of applications including energy, optoelectronics, and spectroscopy. Although broadband light trapping has been obtained in tall structures of carbon nanotubes with millimeter-tall dimensions, obtaining such broadband light-trapping behavior from nanometer-scale absorbers remains elusive. We report a method for trapping the optical field coincident with few-layer decoupled graphene using field localization within a disordered distribution of subwavelength-sized nanotexturing metal particles. We show that the combination of the broadband light-coupling effect from the disordered nanotexture combined with the natural thinness and remarkably high and wavelength-independent absorption of graphene results in an ultrathin (15 nm thin) yet ultra-broadband blackbody absorber, featuring 99% absorption spanning from the mid-infrared to the ultraviolet. We demonstrate the utility of our approach to produce the blackbody absorber on delicate opto-microelectromechanical infrared emitters, using a low-temperature, noncontact fabrication method, which is also large-area compatible. This development may pave a way to new fabrication methodologies for optical devices requiring light management at the nanoscale.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Electromagnetic radiation, Sun, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Black body, Infrared, Greenhouse effect


Limited performance and reliability of electronic devices at extreme temperatures, intensive electromagnetic fields, and radiation found in space exploration missions (i.e., Venus &Jupiter planetary exploration, and heliophysics missions) and earth-based applications requires the development of alternative computing technologies. In the pursuit of alternative technologies, research efforts have looked into developing thermal memory and logic devices that use heat instead of electricity to perform computations. However, most of the proposed technologies operate at room or cryogenic temperatures, due to their dependence on material’s temperature-dependent properties. Here in this research, we show experimentally-for the first time-the use of near-field thermal radiation (NFTR) to achieve thermal rectification at high temperatures, which can be used to build high-temperature thermal diodes for performing logic operations in harsh environments. We achieved rectification through the coupling between NFTR and the size of a micro/nano gap separating two terminals, engineered to be a function of heat flow direction. We fabricated and tested a proof-of-concept NanoThermoMechanical device that has shown a maximum rectification of 10.9% at terminals' temperatures of 375 and 530 K. Experimentally, we operated the microdevice in temperatures as high as about 600 K, demonstrating this technology’s suitability to operate at high temperatures.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Engineering, Heat, Computer, Diode, Heat transfer, Black body


Control of the thermal emission spectra of emitters will result in improved energy utilization efficiency in a broad range of fields, including lighting, energy harvesting, and sensing. In particular, it is challenging to realize a highly selective thermal emitter in the near-infrared-to-visible range, in which unwanted thermal emission spectral components at longer wavelengths are significantly suppressed, whereas strong emission in the near-infrared-to-visible range is retained. To achieve this, we propose an emitter based on interband transitions in a nanostructured intrinsic semiconductor. The electron thermal fluctuations are first limited to the higher-frequency side of the spectrum, above the semiconductor bandgap, and are then enhanced by the photonic resonance of the structure. Theoretical calculations indicate that optimized intrinsic Si rod-array emitters with a rod radius of 105 nm can convert 59% of the input power into emission of wavelengths shorter than 1100 nm at 1400 K. It is also theoretically indicated that emitters with a rod radius of 190 nm can convert 84% of the input power into emission of <1800-nm wavelength at 1400 K. Experimentally, we fabricated a Si rod-array emitter that exhibited a high peak emissivity of 0.77 at a wavelength of 790 nm and a very low background emissivity of <0.02 to 0.05 at 1100 to 7000 nm, under operation at 1273 K. Use of a nanostructured intrinsic semiconductor that can withstand high temperatures is promising for the development of highly efficient thermal emitters operating in the near-infrared-to-visible range.

Concepts: Photon, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Temperature, Semiconductor, Black body, Thermal radiation


Temperature is one of the most important factors affecting the life of insects [1]. For instance, high temperatures can have deleterious effects on insects' physiology. Therefore, many of them have developed various strategies to avoid the risk of thermal stress [2]. They can seek a fresher environment or adjust their water loss, but hematophagous insects, such as mosquitoes, must confront the issue of thermal stress at each feeding event on a warm-blooded host [3]. To better understand to what extent mosquitoes are exposed to thermal stress while feeding, we conducted a real-time infrared thermographic analysis of mosquitoes' body temperature during feeding on both warm blood and sugar solution. First, our results highlighted differences in temperature between the body parts of the mosquito (i.e., heterothermy) during blood intake, but not during sugar meals. We also found that anopheline mosquitoes can decrease their body temperature during blood feeding thanks to evaporative cooling of fluid droplets, which are excreted and maintained at the end of the abdomen. This mechanism protects the insect itself, probably as well as the sheltered microorganisms, both symbionts and parasites, from thermal stress. These findings constitute the first evidence of thermoregulation among hematophagous insects and explain the paradox of fresh blood excretion during feeding.

Concepts: Blood, Insect, Mosquito, Temperature, Liquid, Black body, Thermography, Hematophagy


Infrared radiation emitted from a planet contains information about the chemical composition and vertical temperature profile of its atmosphere. If upper layers are cooler than lower layers, molecular gases will produce absorption features in the planetary thermal spectrum. Conversely, if there is a stratosphere-where temperature increases with altitude-these molecular features will be observed in emission. It has been suggested that stratospheres could form in highly irradiated exoplanets, but the extent to which this occurs is unresolved both theoretically and observationally. A previous claim for the presence of a stratosphere remains open to question, owing to the challenges posed by the highly variable host star and the low spectral resolution of the measurements. Here we report a near-infrared thermal spectrum for the ultrahot gas giant WASP-121b, which has an equilibrium temperature of approximately 2,500 kelvin. Water is resolved in emission, providing a detection of an exoplanet stratosphere at 5σ confidence. These observations imply that a substantial fraction of incident stellar radiation is retained at high altitudes in the atmosphere, possibly by absorbing chemical species such as gaseous vanadium oxide and titanium oxide.

Concepts: Sun, Temperature, Planet, Gas, Atmosphere, Black body, Gas giant, Extrasolar planet


Light in biological media is known as freely diffusing because interference is negligible. Here, we show Anderson light localization in quasi-two-dimensional protein nanostructures produced by silkworms (Bombyx mori). For transmission channels in native silk, the light flux is governed by a few localized modes. Relative spatial fluctuations in transmission quantities are proximal to the Anderson regime. The sizes of passive cavities (smaller than a single fibre) and the statistics of modes (decomposed from excitation at the gain-loss equilibrium) differentiate silk from other diffusive structures sharing microscopic morphological similarity. Because the strong reflectivity from Anderson localization is combined with the high emissivity of the biomolecules in infra-red radiation, silk radiates heat more than it absorbs for passive cooling. This collective evidence explains how a silkworm designs a nanoarchitectured optical window of resonant tunnelling in the physically closed structures, while suppressing most of transmission in the visible spectrum and emitting thermal radiation.

Concepts: Optics, Physics, Electromagnetic radiation, Black body, Infrared, Visible spectrum, Bombyx mori, Emissivity


To map skin temperature kinetics, and by extension skin blood flow throughout normal or abnormal repair of full-thickness cutaneous wounds created on the horse body and limb, using infrared thermography.

Concepts: Scar, Wound healing, Healing, Temperature, Horse, Black body, Thermography, Thermal radiation