A structure and method for changing or controlling the thermal emissivity of the surface of an object in situ, and thus, changing or controlling the radiative heat transfer between the object and its environment in situ, is disclosed. Changing or controlling the degree of blackbody behavior of the object is accomplished by changing or controlling certain physical characteristics of a cavity structure on the surface of the object. The cavity structure, defining a plurality of cavities, may be formed by selectively removing material(s) from the surface, selectively adding a material(s) to the surface, or adding an engineered article(s) to the surface to form a new radiative surface. The physical characteristics of the cavity structure that are changed or controlled include cavity area aspect ratio, cavity longitudinal axis orientation, and combinations thereof. Controlling the cavity area aspect ratio may be by controlling the size of the cavity surface area, the size of the cavity aperture area, or a combination thereof. The cavity structure may contain a gas, liquid, or solid that further enhances radiative heat transfer control and/or improves other properties of the object while in service.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC0676RLO1830 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.