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What may be viewed as the world's smallest incandescent lightbulb is shining in a Rice University engineering laboratory with the promise of advances in sensing, photonics and perhaps computing platforms beyond the limitations of silicon.

Gururaj Naik of Rice's Brown School of Engineering and graduate student Chloe Doiron have assembled unconventional "selective thermal emitters"—collections of near-nanoscale materials that absorb heat and emit light.

Their research, reported in Advanced Materials, one-ups a recent technique developed by the lab that uses carbon nanotubes to channel heat from mid- to improve the efficiency of solar energy systems.

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Category: Science