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11 January 2006 Beating the brightness theorem: thermodynamics of light recycling (experimental)
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Proceedings Volume 6033, ICO20: Illumination, Radiation, and Color Technologies; 603304 (2006)
Event: ICO20:Optical Devices and Instruments, 2005, Changchun, China
The brightness theorem states that it is impossible to increase the spectral radiance of light by passive optical devices, which seems intuitive because spectral radiance is connected to temperature; increasing it seems to violate the second law of thermodynamics. However, consider a gray thermal source, that is a source that emits thermal radiation but with less than unit emissivity. Kirchhoff's law states that absorptivity is equal to emissivity. Thus if we redirect part of the emitted radiation back onto the source, some of it would not be absorbed but either transmitted or reflected instead. Consequently, this radiation would be superposed to the thermal radiation from the source in the same phase space and thereby the spectral radiance would be increased. In fact, thermal sources such as high pressure discharge lamps feature absorptivity-emissivity values far below unity. In this contribution with spectroscopic measurement we show that for such sources the spectral brightness can be increased. This does not contradict the second law because light recycling reduces the irreversible entropy production inherent to the radiation process. It is equivalent to increasing the optical thickness of sources for the price of reducing the total phase space of emitted radiation by the same factor.
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Ling Fu, Ralf Leutz, and Harald Ries "Beating the brightness theorem: thermodynamics of light recycling (experimental)", Proc. SPIE 6033, ICO20: Illumination, Radiation, and Color Technologies, 603304 (11 January 2006);

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