The ability to harvest thermal energy and manipulate heat fluxes has recently attracted a great deal of research interest because this is critical to achieve efficient solar-to-thermal energy conversion in the technology of concentrated solar thermal collectors. Thermal metamaterials with engineered thermal conduction are often utilized to control the diffusive heat flow in ways otherwise not possible with naturally occurring materials. In this work, we adopt the transformation thermodynamics approach to design an annular fan-shaped thermal metamaterial which is capable of guiding heat fluxes and concentrating thermal energy to the central region of the metamaterial device without disturbing the temperature profile outside the structure - a fascinating and unique feature impossibly achieved with homogeneous materials. In experiment, this rationally-designed metamaterial structure demonstrates extreme heat flux compression from both line-shaped and point thermal sources with measured concentration efficiency up to 83.1%, providing the first experimental realization of our recent theoretical prediction (T. Han et al., Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 3537-3541). These unprecedented results may open up new possibilities for engineering thermal materials with desired properties that can be used for dramatically enhancing the efficiency of the existing solar thermal collectors.
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