Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
THERMAL SIGNATURE CONTROL STRUCTURES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/213533
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Subwavelength conducting particles can be arranged on conducting surfaces to provide arbitrary thermal emissivity spectra. For example, a thermal emissivity spectrum can be tailored to suppress a thermal signature of an object without sacrificing radiative cooling efficiency.

Inventors:
AKSELROD GLEB M (US)
JOSBERGER ERIK EDWARD (US)
WEIDMAN MARK C (US)
Application Number:
US2018/033110
Publication Date:
November 22, 2018
Filing Date:
May 17, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ELWHA LLC (US)
International Classes:
G02F1/17; G02F1/01; G02F1/21; B82Y20/00
Foreign References:
US20150062686A12015-03-05
US20070171120A12007-07-26
US20070222658A12007-09-27
US20010054495A12001-12-27
US20040214001A12004-10-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEWART, John C. et al. (Bellevue, Washington, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
An apparatus, comprising:

a conducting surface;

a plurality of conducting particles arranged on the conducting surface, each particle having a flat surface and forming a planar gap region between the conducting surface and the conducting particle;

wherein the plurality of conducting particles is arranged to provide a selected

thermal emissivity spectrum for the apparatus.

The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum is a thermal emissivity spectrum that reduces a thermal signature of the apparatus by a first factor while reducing a radiative cooling efficiency of the apparatus by a second factor substantially smaller than the first factor.

The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum provides:

an apparent temperature of the apparatus that is substantially less than an actual temperature of the apparatus; and

an actual radiative cooling rate that is substantially greater than an apparent

radiative cooling rate.

The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the apparent temperature corresponds to a temperature of a blackbody having a blackbody thermal radiance in a selected spectral range equivalent to an actual thermal radiance of the apparatus in the selected spectral range.

The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the apparent radiative cooling rate corresponds to a radiative cooling rate of a blackbody having the apparent temperature.

The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of the conducting particles has a resonant wavelength selected from a set of resonant wavelengths, the set of resonant wavelengths corresponding to a set of sizes of the conducting particles.

The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the set of sizes of the conducting particles is a set of lengths of the planar gap regions. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum includes:

one or more spectral ranges of enhanced thermal emissivity that include the set of resonant wavelengths;

one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity that exclude the set of resonant wavelengths.

The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity include a selected spectral range, and the set of resonant wavelengths includes one or more resonant wavelengths below a lower wavelength limit of the selected spectral range or above an upper wavelength limit of the selected spectral range.

The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the set of resonant wavelengths one or more lower wavelengths below the lower wavelength of the selected spectral range and one or more upper wavelengths above the upper wavelength of the selected spectral range.

The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the plurality of conducting particles is a colloidal assembly of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the plurality of conducting particles is a lithographically-defined arrangement of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

The apparatus of claim 4 or 9, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of atmospheric transmission of thermal infrared radiation.

The apparatus of claim 4 or 9, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of detector response for a thermal infrared detector.

A composition, comprising:

a plurality of conducting larger particles; and

for each of the larger particles, a plurality of conducting smaller particles arranged on a surface of the larger particle, each smaller having a flat surface and forming a planar gap region between the larger particle and the smaller particle;

wherein the pluralities of conducting smaller particles are arranged to provide a selected thermal emissivity spectrum for the composition.

The composition of claim 15, wherein the larger particles have dimensions greater than about 10 microns and smaller than about 2-3 millimeters.

The composition of claim 15, wherein the smaller particles have dimensions greater than about 200 nanometers and smaller than about 5 microns.

The composition of claim 15, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum is a thermal emissivity spectrum that reduces a thermal signature of the composition by a first factor while reducing a radiative cooling efficiency of the composition by a second factor substantially smaller than the first factor.

The composition of claim 15, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum provides:

an apparent temperature of the composition that is substantially less than an actual temperature of the composition; and

an actual radiative cooling rate that is substantially greater than an apparent

radiative cooling rate.

The composition of claim 19, wherein the apparent temperature corresponds to a temperature of a blackbody having a blackbody thermal radiance in a selected spectral range equivalent to an actual thermal radiance of the composition in the selected spectral range.

The composition of claim 19, wherein the apparent radiative cooling rate corresponds to a radiative cooling rate of a blackbody having the apparent temperature.

The composition of claim 15, wherein each of the smaller particles has a resonant wavelength selected from a set of resonant wavelengths, the set of resonant wavelengths corresponding to a set of sizes of the smaller particles. The composition of claim 22, wherein the set of sizes of the smaller particles is a set of lengths of the planar gap regions.

The composition of claim 22, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum includes:

one or more spectral ranges of enhanced thermal emissivity that include the set of resonant wavelengths;

one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity that exclude the set of resonant wavelengths.

The composition of claim 24, wherein the one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity include a selected spectral range, and the set of resonant wavelengths includes one or more resonant wavelengths below a lower wavelength limit of the selected spectral range or above an upper wavelength limit of the selected spectral range.

The composition of claim 25, wherein the set of resonant wavelengths one or more lower wavelengths below the lower wavelength of the selected spectral range and one or more upper wavelengths above the upper wavelength of the selected spectral range.

The composition of claim 15, wherein, for each of the larger particles, the plurality of smaller particles is a colloidal assembly of the smaller particles on the larger particle.

The composition of claim 20 or 25, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of atmospheric transmission of thermal infrared radiation.

The composition of claim 20 or 25, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of detector response for a thermal infrared detector.

A method of fabricating the apparatus of any of claims 1-14, comprising:

arranging the plurality of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

The method of claim 30, wherein the arranging of the plurality of conducting particles includes: colloidally assembling the conducting particles on the conducting surface.

The method of claim 30, wherein the arranging of the plurality of conducting particles includes:

photolithographically arranging the plurality of conducting particles on the

conducting surface.

A method of fabricating the composition of any of claims 15-29, comprising: for each of the larger particles, arranging the plurality of smaller particles on a surface of the larger particle.

The method of claim 33, wherein the arranging of the plurality of smaller particles includes:

colloidally assembling the smaller particles on the surfaces of the larger particles.

Description:
THERMAL SIGNATURE CONTROL STRUCTURES

All subject matter of the Priority Application(s) is incorporated herein by reference to the extent such subject matter is not inconsistent herewith.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

Subwavelength conducting particles can be arranged on a conducting surface to provide a structure with a selective absorption spectrum for electromagnetic radiation. See, e.g., A. Moreau et al, "Controlled-reflectance surfaces with film-coupled colloidal nanoantennas," Nature 492, 86-89 (Dec. 2012); and D. R. Smith et al., U.S. Patent No. 9,606,414; each of which is herein incorporated by reference. An example of such a structure, sometimes referred to as a metasurface, is shown in FIG. 1A-1B. In the example, small conducting particles 101 are arranged on a conducting surface 102, with a dielectric spacer layer 103 interposed between each particle and the underlying surface (FIG. 1A shows an above view of the surface, while FIG. IB shows a close-up cross section of a single particle). Each conducting particle has a flat lower surface and forms a planar gap region between the conducting particle and the conducting surface (in this example, the particles are cubes, but any shape having a flat lower surface would suffice). The planar gap region supports a Fabry -Perot resonance mode, with an exemplary electric field pattern for the mode seen in the close-up of FIG. IB.

As explained in the references cited above and in further detail below, the resonant wavelength of the Fabry-Perot mode, and thus the absorption spectrum for the structure, can be designed by selecting an appropriate geometry for the structure, e.g. by appropriate selection of the length and thickness of the planar gap region. For example, a resonant wavelength of about 11 microns may be obtained for gold cubes with an edge length of 500 nm, arranged on an underlying gold surface with a 20 nm silica spacer layer. In typical embodiments, the length of the planar gap region might range from about one-half to one-twentieth of the resonant wavelength, depending on the thickness of the gap region and the materials used.

The present application relates to metasurfaces that are structured to provide a selected thermal emissivity spectrum. By Kirchoff s radiation law, the spectrum of thermal emissivity of an object is identical to the absorption spectrum for the object. Thus, by designing the sizes of conducting particles and their arrangements on one or more conducting surfaces, an arbitrary thermal emissivity spectrum can be obtained. For example, the structure can be designed to significantly suppress an observed thermal signature of an object (e.g. as viewed with a thermal infrared detector) without significantly sacrificing radiative cooling efficiency. These metasurfaces can be fabricated using colloidal or photolithographic processes, and can be applied onto the surface of any object (e.g. by painting or lamination) to tailor the thermal emissivity spectrum of that object.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIGS. 1A-1B depict an example of a metasurface.

FIGS. 2A-2C depict thermal emissivity spectra.

FIGS. 3A-3B depict an example of tailoring thermal emissivity.

FIG. 4 depicts an example of a constituent unit for a composition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. In the drawings, similar symbols typically identify similar components, unless context dictates otherwise. The illustrative embodiments described in the detailed description, drawings, and claims are not meant to be limiting. Other embodiments may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the subject matter presented here.

FIGS. 2A-2C illustrate an example of designing a thermal emissivity spectrum for a metasurface. In this example, the thermal emissivity spectrum is designed to

significantly suppress a thermal signature of an object (e.g. by a factor of 10 or more), while maintaining significant radiative cooling efficiency. Consider, for example, an object having a temperature of 50° C. If the object were a blackbody (i.e. a perfect absorber), it would have a blackbody thermal emissivity 201 as a function of wavelength, as shown in FIG. 2A.

Suppose that the object is remotely observed with a thermal infrared detector. As shown in FIG. 2B, the atmospheric transmission spectrum 210 of thermal infrared radiation is highly wavelength-dependent, with significant transmission in particular transmission bands (e.g. 3-to-5 microns, 8-to- 13 -microns) and strong atmospheric absorption at other wavelengths. Thus, the blackbody emissivity spectrum 201 would translate into an detected radiance 221 at the thermal infrared detector, as shown in FIG. 2C. The spectral integral of this detected radiance is one useful measure of the thermal signature of the observed object.

Now, suppose that the object is covered with a metasurface that is designed to have a different thermal emissivity spectrum 202 as shown in FIG. 2A. Here, the emissivity spectrum is designed to be substantially reduced relative to the blackbody spectrum 201 in a selected spectral range, in this case, a spectral range corresponding to the 8 -to- 13 -micron atmospheric transmission band (the multiple peaks are indicative of multiple resonant wavelengths for the conducting particles arranged on the metasurface, as further discussed below). This modified thermal radiance 202 translates into a modified detected radiance 222 at the thermal infrared detector, as shown in FIG. 2C. Again using the spectral integral of the detected radiance as a useful measure of the thermal signature of the observed object, it can be seen that the metasurface-covered object has a significantly reduced thermal signature; in this case, the thermal signature is reduced by a factor of about 12.

At the same time, FIG. 2A illustrates that the radiative cooling rate, or radiative cooling efficiency, of the object is not comparably suppressed by the metasurface cover. The radiative cooling efficiency can be expressed as the spectral integral of the thermal emissivity spectrum over all frequencies. Outside of the selected spectral range for emission suppression, the emissivity spectrum is not substantially reduced relative to the blackbody spectrum; in this case, the overall radiative cooling efficiency is therefore only reduced by about 50%.

With a thermal emission spectrum designed as in FIGS. 2A-2C, significant radiative cooling of a hot object can be achieved while substantially concealing the heat of the object from a distant thermal infrared detector, by making the object appear to be substantially cooler than its actual temperature. Consider, for example, a 10 cm spherical object placed in a 20° C ambient environment, and suppose that the object is exposed to a 1000 W heat source. If the object were a blackbody (perfect absorber), it would reach a steady state temperature of about 240° C, and this would be the apparent temperature of the object as seen by a thermal imager. If the object were a whitebody (perfect reflector), it would have an apparent temperature of only 20° C (the ambient temperature), but the actual steady state temperature would be significantly higher at 414° C. Coating the object with a metasurface designed to have a thermal emission spectrum as in FIGS. 2A-2C yields a compromise of the two extremes, in that the object would not become as hot as the whitebody (actual steady state temperature of about 297° C, versus 414 °C for the whitebody), and it would not appear as hot as the blackbody (apparent temperature of 53° C, versus 240° C for the blackbody).

While the above discussion of FIGS. 2A-2C describes the thermal signature suppression in terms of an emissivity spectrum multiplied by atmospheric transmission as a function of wavelength (and then integrated over all wavelengths), in another approach, the thermal signature is instead defined in terms of an emissivity spectrum multiplied by a thermal detector response as a function of wavelength (and then integrated over all wavelengths). In yet another approach, the thermal signature is instead defined in terms of an emissivity spectrum that is integrated over a selected spectral range, which could be a range of atmospheric transmission or a range of detector response for a thermal infrared detector. In many contexts, these different approaches will yield comparable results as they commonly reflect inherent limitations in the remote detection of thermal signatures.

The thermal emissivity spectrum of the metasurface can be designed by arranging a plurality of differently-sized conducting particles on a conducting surface. Then the particles would have a set of resonant wavelengths corresponding to a set of sizes of the conducting particles. The thermal emissivity may be thereby enhanced within linewidths of the resonant wavelengths, and reduced outside of these linewidths. The heights of the resonant peaks can be increased or decreased by changing the relative concentrations (i.e. surface densities) of particles at each of the different sizes, while the widths of the resonant peaks by can be increased or decreased by, for example, using trapezoidal (as opposed to cubic or cuboidal) particles. Thus, by appropriate selection of the sizes, shapes, and concentrations of the various conducting particles on the conducting surface, the thermal emissivity spectrum can be practically custom-tailored.

An example of this custom tailoring is shown in FIGS. 3A-3B. FIG. 3A depicts an electron microscope image of a metasurface that is populated with an array of particles having four different sizes 301 (violet), 302 (blue), 303 (green), and 304 (red). The thermal emission spectrum for this metasurface, shown in FIG. 3B, features four prominent emission peaks 311-314 corresponding to the four different sizes 301-304. The four sizes were selected so that two emission peaks would be situated below a selected spectral band 320 and two emission peaks would be situation above the selected spectral band 320; consequently, thermal emission is suppressed within the selected spectral band 320, due to an absence of resonances therein.

While the above discussion has focused on laminar embodiments having a single conducting surface with an arrangement of conducting particles distributed thereon, composition embodiments provide multiple conducting surfaces, each the surface of a larger conducting particle, with smaller conducting particles distributed thereon. An example is shown in FIG. 4, which depicts a constituent unit 400 for a composition, the constituent unit including a larger conducting particle 401 having a plurality of smaller conducting particles 402 arranged on its surface. Because the larger conducting particle is significantly larger than each of the smaller conducting particles, the surface of the larger conducting particle is locally planar under each of the smaller conducting particles, providing planar regions between the larger particle and each smaller particle just as with the laminar embodiments. In typical scenarios, the larger particles might be as small as 10 microns or as large as a 2-3 millimeters, while the smaller particles might be as small as 200 nanometers or as large as 5 microns.

In some embodiments, the structure is covered by a layer that protects and/or conceals the underlying structure. For example, the structure may be covered with ZnO or FeO microparticles or nanoparticles that scatter visible light (e.g. to create a paint-like appearance) but are substantially transparent to infrared light, allowing the underlying structure to function. In some approaches, the ZnO or FeO particles may be embedded in an infrared-transparent binder or matrix material.

Laminar embodiments can be mounted on a thin flexible structure (e.g. a polymer film such as Kapton), and then this laminar structure can be applied as a cover to an object of interest by "wallpapering" the object (e.g. using an adhesive to attach the laminar structure to the surface of the object). On the other hand, composition embodiments can be mixed with suitable binders, and then this composition can be applied as a cover to an object of interest by "painting" the object (e.g. brushing, rolling, or spraying the composition onto the surface of the object).

Laminar embodiments may be fabricated by either by colloidal assembly or by photolithography. In a colloidal assembly approach, the conducting particles randomly self-assemble on the conducting surface (e.g. as in FIG. 1A); to provide a desired surface density of variously-sized particles, the colloidal suspension of the conducting particles can include selected concentrations of the different particles. In a photolithographic approach, a lift-off process can be employed that entails depositing a negative photoresist on the dielectric spacer layer; exposing the photoresist with the desired pattern of conducting particles; evaporating gold onto the exposed photoresist; and then dissolving the photoresist to leave behind the conducting particles. After the conducting particles are arranged on the conducting surface (either by colloidal assembly or by photolithography), the arrangement may be covered with a layer of infrared-transparent material to protect and/or conceal the structure. To provide a thin flexible structure for "wallpapering," a thin flexible layer may be placed on a substrate, with the conducting surface deposited on top of the thin flexible layer; then, after the conducting particles have been arranged on the conducting surface, the thin flexible layer can be peeled off of the substrate.

Composition embodiments may be fabricated by colloidal assembly, e.g. by placing the larger particles in a colloidal suspension of the smaller particles and allowing the smaller particles to self-assemble on the surfaces of the larger particles. Again, to provide a desired surface density of variously-sized particles, the colloidal suspension of the conducting particles can include selected concentrations of the different particles; alternatively, the composition can be made up of several batches of larger particles, the first batch assembling smaller particles of a first size on the larger particles, the second batch assembling smaller particles of a second size on the larger particles, and so on. The assembled particles can then be mixed with a suitable infrared-transparent binder for "painting."

All of the U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in any Application Data Sheet, are

incorporated herein by reference, to the extent not inconsistent herewith.

Aspects of the subject matter described herein are set out in the following numbered clauses:

1. An apparatus, comprising:

a conducting surface;

a plurality of conducting particles arranged on the conducting surface, each particle having a flat surface and forming a planar gap region between the conducting surface and the conducting particle;

wherein the plurality of conducting particles is arranged to provide a selected thermal emissivity spectrum for the apparatus. 2. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum is a thermal emissivity spectrum that reduces a thermal signature of the apparatus by a first factor while reducing a radiative cooling efficiency of the apparatus by a second factor substantially smaller than the first factor.

3. The apparatus of clause 2, wherein the reduced thermal signature is less then one-third, one-fifth, or one-tenth of a thermal signature of a blackbody having a same actual temperature as the apparatus.

4. The apparatus of clause 3, wherein the radiative cooling efficiency is greater than one-quarter, one-half, or three-quarters of a radiative cooling efficiency of the blackbody having the same actual temperature as the apparatus.

5. The apparatus of clause 2, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to thermal radiance integrated over a selected spectral range of infrared wavelengths.

6. The apparatus of clause 2, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to a product of thermal radiance times atmospheric transmission as a function of wavelength, integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

7. The apparatus of clause 2, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to a product of thermal radiance times thermal detector response as a function of wavelength, integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

8. The apparatus of clause 2, wherein the radiative cooling efficiency corresponds to thermal radiance integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

9. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum provides:

an apparent temperature of the apparatus that is substantially less than an actual temperature of the apparatus; and

an actual radiative cooling rate that is substantially greater than an apparent radiative cooling rate.

10. The apparatus of clause 9, wherein the apparent temperature corresponds to a temperature of a blackbody having a blackbody thermal radiance in a selected spectral range equivalent to an actual thermal radiance of the apparatus in the selected spectral range.

11. The apparatus of clause 9, wherein the apparent radiative cooling rate corresponds to a radiative cooling rate of a blackbody having the apparent temperature. 12. The apparatus of clause 1, further comprising: a spacer layer occupying the planar gap region between the conducting surface and each conducting particle.

13. The apparatus of clause 12, wherein the spacer layer is a layer of material transparent to thermal infrared radiation.

14. The apparatus of clause 13, wherein the material is ZnS or ZnSe.

15. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein the conducting particles are noble metal particles.

16. The apparatus of clause 15, wherein the noble metal particles are gold particles.

17. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein each of the conducting particles has a resonant wavelength selected from a set of resonant wavelengths, the set of resonant wavelengths corresponding to a set of sizes of the conducting particles.

18. The apparatus of clause 17, wherein the set of sizes of the conducting particles is a set of lengths of the planar gap regions.

19. The apparatus of clause 17, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum includes:

one or more spectral ranges of enhanced thermal emissivity that include the set of resonant wavelengths;

one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity that exclude the set of resonant wavelengths.

20. The apparatus of clause 19, wherein the one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity include a selected spectral range, and the set of resonant wavelengths includes one or more resonant wavelengths below a lower wavelength limit of the selected spectral range or above an upper wavelength limit of the selected spectral range.

21. The apparatus of clause 20, wherein the set of resonant wavelengths one or more lower wavelengths below the lower wavelength of the selected spectral range and one or more upper wavelengths above the upper wavelength of the selected spectral range.

22. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein the plurality of conducting particles is a colloidal assembly of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

23. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein the plurality of conducting particles is a lithographically-defined arrangement of conducting particles on the conducting surface. 24. The apparatus of clause 1, wherein, for each of a set of particles selected from the plurality of conducting particles:

the flat surface is a lower flat surface and the particle also has an upper flat surface; and

one or more sub-particles are arranged on the upper flat surface, each sub-particle having a lower flat surface and forming a planar gap region between the upper flat surface of the particle and the lower flat surface of the sub-particle.

25. The apparatus of clause 5, 10, or 20, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of atmospheric transmission of thermal infrared radiation.

26. The apparatus of clause 25, wherein the range of atmospheric transmission includes one or more atmospheric transmission bands.

27. The apparatus of clause 26, wherein the one or more atmospheric transmission bands include a 3-to-5-micron atmospheric transmission band.

28. The apparatus of clause 26, wherein the one or more atmospheric transmission bands include an 8 -to- 13 -micron atmospheric transmission band.

29. The apparatus of clause 5, 10, or 20, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of detector response for a thermal infrared detector.

30. The apparatus of clause 1, further comprising:

a flexible layer below the conducting surface.

31. The apparatus of clause 30, wherein the flexible layer is a polymer film.

32. The apparatus of clause 1, further comprising:

a layer of infrared-transparent material covering the conducting surface and the conducting particles.

33. The apparatus of clause 32, wherein the layer of infrared-transparent material includes ZnO or FeO particles.

34. A composition, comprising:

a plurality of conducting larger particles; and

for each of the larger particles, a plurality of conducting smaller particles arranged on a surface of the larger particle, each smaller having a flat surface and forming a planar gap region between the larger particle and the smaller particle;

wherein the pluralities of conducting smaller particles are arranged to provide a selected thermal emissivity spectrum for the composition. 35. The composition of clause 34, wherein the larger particles have dimensions greater than about 10 microns and smaller than about 2-3 millimeters.

36. The composition of clause 34, wherein the smaller particles have dimensions greater than about 200 nanometers and smaller than about 5 microns.

37. The composition of clause 34, further comprising: an infrared-transparent binder.

38. The composition of clause 37, further comprising: a diluent or solvent.

39. The composition of clause 34, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum is a thermal emissivity spectrum that reduces a thermal signature of the composition by a first factor while reducing a radiative cooling efficiency of the composition by a second factor substantially smaller than the first factor.

40. The composition of clause 39, wherein the reduced thermal signature is less then one-third, one-fifth, or one-tenth of a thermal signature of a blackbody having a same actual temperature as the composition.

41. The composition of clause 40, wherein the radiative cooling efficiency is greater than one-quarter, one-half, or three-quarters of a radiative cooling efficiency of the blackbody having the same actual temperature as the composition.

42. The composition of clause 39, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to thermal radiance integrated over a selected spectral range of infrared wavelengths.

43. The composition of clause 39, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to a product of thermal radiance times atmospheric transmission as a function of wavelength, integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

44. The composition of clause 39, wherein the thermal signature corresponds to a product of thermal radiance times thermal detector response as a function of wavelength, integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

45. The composition of clause 39, wherein the radiative cooling efficiency corresponds to thermal radiance integrated over all infrared wavelengths.

46. The composition of clause 34, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum provides:

an apparent temperature of the composition that is substantially less than an actual temperature of the composition; and

an actual radiative cooling rate that is substantially greater than an apparent radiative cooling rate. 47. The composition of clause 46, wherein the apparent temperature corresponds to a temperature of a blackbody having a blackbody thermal radiance in a selected spectral range equivalent to an actual thermal radiance of the composition in the selected spectral range.

48. The composition of clause 46, wherein the apparent radiative cooling rate corresponds to a radiative cooling rate of a blackbody having the apparent temperature.

49. The composition of clause 34, further comprising, for each of the larger particles: a spacer layer occupying the planar gap region between the larger particle and each smaller particle.

50. The composition of clause 49, wherein the spacer layer is a layer of material transparent to thermal infrared radiation.

51. The composition of clause 50, wherein the material is ZnS or ZnSe.

52. The composition of clause 34, wherein the smaller particles are noble metal particles.

53. The composition of clause 52, wherein the noble metal particles are gold particles.

54. The composition of clause 34, wherein each of the smaller particles has a resonant wavelength selected from a set of resonant wavelengths, the set of resonant wavelengths corresponding to a set of sizes of the smaller particles.

55. The composition of clause 54, wherein the set of sizes of the smaller particles is a set of lengths of the planar gap regions.

56. The composition of clause 54, wherein the selected thermal emissivity spectrum includes:

one or more spectral ranges of enhanced thermal emissivity that include the set of resonant wavelengths;

one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity that exclude the set of resonant wavelengths.

57. The composition of clause 56, wherein the one or more spectral ranges of suppressed thermal emissivity include a selected spectral range, and the set of resonant wavelengths includes one or more resonant wavelengths below a lower wavelength limit of the selected spectral range or above an upper wavelength limit of the selected spectral range. 58. The composition of clause 57, wherein the set of resonant wavelengths one or more lower wavelengths below the lower wavelength of the selected spectral range and one or more upper wavelengths above the upper wavelength of the selected spectral range.

59. The composition of clause 34, wherein, for each of the larger particles, the plurality of smaller particles is a colloidal assembly of the smaller particles on the larger particle.

60. The composition of clause 42, 47, or 57, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of atmospheric transmission of thermal infrared radiation.

61. The composition of clause 60, wherein the range of atmospheric transmission includes one or more atmospheric transmission bands.

62. The composition of clause 61, wherein the one or more atmospheric transmission bands include a 3-to-5-micron atmospheric transmission band.

63. The composition of clause 61, wherein the one or more atmospheric transmission bands include an 8 -to- 13 -micron atmospheric transmission band.

64. The composition of clause 42, 47, or 57, wherein the selected spectral range is a range of detector response for a thermal infrared detector.

65. The composition of clause 34, further comprising, for each of the larger particles:

a layer of infrared-transparent material covering the larger particle and the smaller particles.

66. The composition of clause 65, wherein the layer of infrared-transparent material includes ZnO or FeO particles.

67. A method of fabricating the apparatus of any of clauses 1-32, comprising: arranging the plurality of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

68. The method of clause 67, further comprising:

placing a flexible layer on a substrate; and

depositing the conducting surface as a metal layer on the flexible layer.

69. The method of clause 68, further comprising:

after the arranging, peeling the flexible layer off of the substrate.

70. The method of clause 68, further comprising:

depositing the spacer layer on the conducting surface.

71. The method of clause 67, wherein the arranging of the plurality of conducting particles includes: colloidally assembling the conducting particles on the conducting surface.

72. The method of clause 67, wherein the arranging of the plurality of conducting particles includes:

photolithographically arranging the plurality of conducting particles on the conducting surface.

73. The method of clause 72, wherein the photolithographic arranging is a photolithographic arranging by a lift-off process.

74. The method of clause 67, further comprising:

covering the arranged plurality of conducting particles with an infrared-transparent material.

75. A method of fabricating the composition of any of clauses 33-64, comprising:

for each of the larger particles, arranging the plurality of smaller particles on a surface of the larger particle.

76. The method of clause 75, wherein the arranging of the plurality of smaller particles includes:

colloidally assembling the smaller particles on the surfaces of the larger particles.

While various aspects and embodiments have been disclosed herein, other aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The various aspects and embodiments disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting, with the true scope and spirit being indicated by the following claims.