Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jiangfeng Zhou, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Myung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zhimin Shi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andreas Muller, Ph.D.


High efficiency, Low power, Radio frequency, Fabry-Perot cavity, Scavenging, DWELL


Techniques for adapting metamaterials for the improvement of RF energy harvesting and infrared photodetection are demonstrated using experimental and computer simulation methods. Two methods for RF energy harvesting are experimentally demonstrated and supported by computer simulation. In the first method, a metamaterial perfect absorber (MPA) is made into a rectenna capable of harvesting RF energy and delivering power to a load by soldering Schottky diodes onto connected split ring resonator (SRR) structures composing the planar metasurface of the perfect absorber. The metamaterial rectenna is accompanied by a ground plane placed parallel to it, which forms a Fabry-Perot cavity between the metasurface and the ground plane. The Fabry-Perot cavity stores energy in the form of standing waves which is transferred to the SRR structures of the metasurface as AC currents that are rectified by the diodes to create DC power. This type of design enables highly efficient energy harvesting for low input power, creates a large antenna capture area, and uses elements with small electrical size, such that 100 uW of power (enough to operate simple devices) can be captured at ambient intensities ~ 1 - 2 uW/cm2. Two designs using this method are presented, one that operates for linear polarizations at 0.9 GHz and a smaller polarization-independent design that operates around 1.5 GHz. In the second method, the energy stored in the standing waves of an MPA Fabry-Perot cavity is instead harvested by placing a separate energy harvesting antenna within the cavity. The cavity shapes and enhances the incident electric field, and then the separate energy harvesting antenna is designed to be inserted into the cavity so that its shape and/or radiation pattern matches the electric field lines within the cavity and maximally extracts the stored energy. This method allows for great customization of antenna design parameters, such as operating frequency, polarization dependence, and directionality, by swapping out different metasurface and antenna designs. Using this method, the amount of power harvested by a simple dipole rectenna placed within a cavity is improved by a factor of 18 as compared to what it would harvest by itself at an ambient intensity of 35 nW/cm2. Lastly, the addition of plasmonic structures to DWELL (quantum dot-in-a-well) infrared photodetectors is investigated by computer simulation. DWELL photodetectors have the potential to one day replace standard mercury cadmium telluride detectors by being cheaper alternatives with a higher operating temperature. The inclusion of gold plasmonic structure arrays into DWELL detectors enables excitation of surface plasmon polariton modes that increase the responsivity of the detector to incident infrared radiation. The peak responsivity of a DWELL detector is demonstrated to improve by a factor of 8 for a 1 um thick layer of plasmonic structures and by a factor of 15 for a 2 um thick layer. These works are steps forward in making RF energy harvesting practically useful and for improving infrared photodetector performance.