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We investigate thermal emission characteristics mediated by surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) resonantly excited at a semiconductor-vacuum interface. The characteristic plasma and SPP resonant frequencies in the interval from 0.3 to 10 THz can be controlled with conventional doping densities. All of the cases under consideration (n-doped GaAs, GaN, and Si) demonstrate the spectral energy density in the near field that is several orders of magnitude larger than the blackbody radiation. The strongly resonant SPPs are also shown to enhance drastically the radiative heat transfer between two semi-infinite surfaces separated by nanometric distances. The possibility of extending spatially coherent emission through 1-D binary grating is examined based on a rigorous coupled-wave analysis. Our calculation results clearly indicate that n-doped semiconductors with properly designed surface grating can achieve efficient directional thermal emission in the THz frequency range for potential use in a number of applications including sensing.