Feeds

US boffins create darkest material ever

Blacker than a black cat in a coal cellar

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

US researchers announced yesterday they'd concocted the darkest material on the planet - a carbon nanotube substance so black it absorbs more than 99.9 per cent of light, Reuters reports.

In fact, the stuff's so unrelentingly black it's "30 times darker than a carbon substance used by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology as the current benchmark of blackness" and, with a total reflective index of just 0.045 per cent, is over three times blacker than the nickel-phosphorus alloy which currently holds the world's darkest material record.

The new black was created by researchers at Rice University in Houston in conjunction with a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. It's made of carbon nanotubes, standing on end "much like a patch of grass". The tubes absorb some of the light falling on them, while the gaps between the "blades" capture the rest. The material's surface is also irregular, to cut reflection.

Pulickel Ajayan, head of the Rice University team, said: "All the light that goes in is basically absorbed. It is almost pushing the limit of how much light can be absorbed into one material."

The researchers have tested the material in visible light, and will now look at how it handles the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums, as well as wavelengths used in communications systems. Ajayan noted: "If you could make materials that would block these radiations, it could have serious applications for stealth and defense."

Civilian uses for the material might include solar energy conversion, infrared detection, or astronomical observation, Ajayan added.

The team is currently seeking a world's darkest material designation by Guinness World Records. If granted, it will complement Ajayan's 2006 Guinness World Record as "co-inventor of the smallest brush in the world".

The research will be published in the upcoming issue of the journal Nano Letters. ®

Bootnote

Cue obligatory Spinal Tap quote. As the band's Nigel Tufnel said: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is... none. None more black."

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.