Abstract: Nanophotonic materials offer spectral and directional control over thermal emission, but in high-temperature oxidizing environments, their stability remains low. This limits their applications in technologies such as solid-state energy conversion and thermal barrier coatings. Here we show an epitaxial heterostructure of perovskite BaZr0.5Hf0.5O3 (BZHO) and rocksalt MgO that is stable up to 1,100 °C in air. The heterostructure exhibits coherent atomic registry and clearly separated refractive-index-mismatched layers after prolonged exposure to this extreme environment. The immiscibility of the two materials is corroborated by the high formation energy of substitutional defects from density functional theory calculations. The epitaxy of immiscible refractory oxides is, therefore, an effective method to avoid prevalent thermal instabilities in nanophotonic materials, such as grain-growth degradation, interlayer mixing and oxidation. As a functional example, a BZHO/MgO photonic crystal is implemented as a filter to suppress long-wavelength thermal emission from the leading bulk selective emitter and effectively raise its cutoff energy by 20%, which can produce a corresponding gain in the efficiency of mobile thermophotovoltaic systems. Beyond BZHO/MgO, computational screening shows that hundreds of potential cubic oxide pairs fit the design principles of immiscible refractory photonics. Extending the concept to other material systems could enable further breakthroughs in a wide range of photonic and energy conversion applications.
Full text available from Nature Nanotechnology.