MIT engineers accidentally create a new king of darkness

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,394   +121
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Engineers from MIT have crafted a material that is 10 times blacker than any other material previously reported. Best yet, they weren’t even trying.

The material is comprised of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes grown on the surface of chlorine-etched aluminum foil. The team was experimenting with ways to grow carbon nanotubes on electrically conducting materials in order to boost their electrical and thermal properties. The material’s color came as a surprise.

“I remember noticing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked even darker,” said Kehang Cui, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a co-author on a paper on the material. “So I thought I should measure the optical reflectance of the sample.”

Testing revealed that the material absorbed more than 99.995 percent of light, from every angle. Vantablack, the super-black coating from Surrey NanoSystems that was previously considered the darkest man-made substance, absorbs 99.965 percent of light.

Brian Wardle, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, conceded that the blackest black is a constantly moving target. “Someone will find a blacker material,” he said, “and eventually we’ll understand all the underlying mechanisms and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black.”

MIT’s material is on display as part of a new exhibit at the New York Stock Exchange. Titled “The Redemption of Vanity,” the art installation features a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond coated in the material. The normally sparkling gem appears as a flat, black void with the coating.

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PEnnn

Posts: 409   +342
"testing revealed that the material absorbed more than 99.995 percent of light, from every angle"

They should call it........."Black Hole Black". It absorbs almost 100% of light, and in case of the BMW, that much of your money!
 

MarkHughes

Posts: 229   +145
So they mention one practical use in telescopes, What else could it be used for ?

Could it be used in monitors and TV's to create a very dark black ? Does it have any use in solar power generation maybe ?
 
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treetops

Posts: 2,980   +746
And my remote control was never seen again. Am I the only one getting tired of all my electronics being white or black for the last 2+ decades? It looks cool but everything blends in. Oldish people problems lol
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,065   +4,867
...[ ]...Could it be used in monitors and TV's to create a very dark black ? Does it have any use in solar power generation maybe ?
If its absorption extends down to more efficient infrared gathering, over an efficient heat conducting material, more efficient heat exchange devices might be possible.

That's provisional of course, assuming its light and heat gathering ability seriously offsets its (one assumes at least temporarily), much higher cost than good old fashioned black anodized aluminum or copper.