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MIT boffins turn black up to 11 with carbon nanotubes that absorb 99.96% of light - The Register

Date published: 2019-09-14
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.


Carbon nanotubes have peculiar properties. Not only do they have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any known substance they can also absorb the most light, making them the blackest material yet.
A pair of academics at MIT in the US discovered this when they decided to grow tiny carbon nanofibres on a slice of aluminium washed in a briny solution. When they measured the optical absorption, they found that the material sucked in a whopping 99.96 per cent of light.
Our material is 10 times blacker than anything thats ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target, said Brian Wardle, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, earlier this week. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually well understand all the underlying mechanisms, and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black.
The level of blackness is the same when its viewed at different angles too. At the moment, the strange substance is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange as part of an art exhibit. A 16.78-carat yellow diamond worth $2 million has been covered in the carbon nanotubes. Since the soot-like material gives off so little light, the ridges and reflective faces of the diamond cant be seen so the gem looks like a flat outline.
There are other possible practical applications for this material too. The researchers reckon itll be useful in optical blinders or telescopes. There are optical and space science applications for very black materials, and of course, artists have been interested in black, going back well before the Renaissance, said Wardle.
Wardle and his colleague Kehang Cui, a former postdoc researcher at MIT, who is now professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, werent trying to make the blackest material in their experiments. Instead, they wanted to find new ways to stick carbon nanotubes on highly conductive materials like aluminium to magnify its electrical conductance.
The top layer of the metal tends to oxidise ...


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MIT boffins turn black up to 11 with carbon nanotubes that absorb 99.96% of light - The Register https://t.co/vDl3ZI7dbD #MIT #Cui #Wardle pic.twitter.com/L1s3Ppmo8Y

— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) September 14, 2019