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  1. A radiative vapor condenser sheds heat in the form of infrared radiation and cools itself to below the ambient air temperature to produce liquid water from vapor. This effect has been known for centuries, and is exploited by some insects to survive in dry deserts. Humans have also been using radiative condensation for dew collection. However, all existing radiative vapor condensers must operate during the nighttime. Here, we develop daytime radiative condensers that continue to operate 24 h a day. These daytime radiative condensers can produce water from vapor under direct sunlight, without active consumption of energy. Combined with traditional passive cooling via convection and conduction, radiative cooling can substantially increase the performance of passive vapor condensation, which can be used for passive water extraction and purification technologies.

  2. Thermal emission is the process by which all objects at nonzero temperatures emit light and is well described by the Planck, Kirchhoff, and Stefan–Boltzmann laws. For most solids, the thermally emitted power increases monotonically with temperature in a one-to-one relationship that enables applications such as infrared imaging and noncontact thermometry. Here, we demonstrated ultrathin thermal emitters that violate this one-to-one relationship via the use of samarium nickel oxide (SmNiO3), a strongly correlated quantum material that undergoes a fully reversible, temperature-driven solid-state phase transition. The smooth and hysteresis-free nature of this unique insulator-to-metal phase transition enabled us to engineer the temperature dependence of emissivity to precisely cancel out the intrinsic blackbody profile described by the Stefan–Boltzmann law, for both heating and cooling. Our design results in temperature-independent thermally emitted power within the long-wave atmospheric transparency window (wavelengths of 8 to 14 µm), across a broad temperature range of ∼30 °C, centered around ∼120 °C. The ability to decouple temperature and thermal emission opens a gateway for controlling the visibility of objects to infrared cameras and, more broadly, opportunities for quantum materials in controlling heat transfer.

  3. We show that the well-known relationship between temperature and thermal radiation can be decoupled in a fully passive and reversible way using the phase transition of samarium nickelate. Our sample features temperature-independent thermally emitted power in the long-wave infrared from 90 to 120 °C, making it promising for camouflage applications.