Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Black Is Black

By Cernig

No, this isn't an Obama/Hillary race vs gender post. It's a cool/weird science post, because I love cool and weird science.
U.S. researchers said on Tuesday they have made the darkest material on Earth, a substance so black it absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light.

Made from tiny tubes of carbon standing on end, this material is almost 30 times darker than a carbon substance used by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology as the current benchmark of blackness.

And the material is close to the long-sought ideal black, which could absorb all colors of light and reflect none.

"All the light that goes in is basically absorbed," Pulickel Ajayan, who led the research team at Rice University in Houston, said in a telephone interview. "It is almost pushing the limit of how much light can be absorbed into one material."

The substance has a total reflective index of 0.045 percent -- which is more than three times darker than the nickel-phosphorous alloy that now holds the record as the world's darkest material.

Basic black paint, by comparison, has a reflective index of 5 percent to 10 percent.
The new material could have a big impact on the solar power industry as capturing all the energy from visible sunlight would boost solar panels' effectiveness and, if it or a similar material also absorbs in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, major implications for military stealth technology. Plus, Batman wants it for his next Batmobile.

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