Engineers claim creating blackest ever material

17 Septembre, 2019, 13:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • NewsGeneralRead Scientists at MIT create black material that absorbs 99.96% of light
By Robin Leigh Chetty

"Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that's ever been reported", lead study author Brian Wardle, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said in a statement.

A few years ago, Surrey Nanosystems created a similar material called 'Vantablack' with it claiming 99.965% of light being absorbed, and later on, they broke their own record by creating something that couldn't be under a spectrometer, i.e.it absorbed 99.99% of light. MIT designers have concocted a material that is multiple times more black than everything else recently revealed. By using salt to break down a pesky layer of oxidation on the aluminum's surface, the team achieved their goal, and it was then that they noticed how black the aluminum became when it was covered in the tiny nanotubes.

Scientists have stumbled across the blackest material ever seen, which absorbs 99.995 percent of light and makes the previously known blackest black pale in comparison.

MIT artist-in-residence Diemut Strebe has worked with the researchers to coat a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond, estimated to be worth $2 million, in the ultrablack material. He pointed out that there are optical and space science applications for extremely black materials, such as in optical blinders reducing glare, so space telescopes can easily spot exoplanets. However, he added that this latest material is not the endpoint of research.

Material engineers at MIT have produced the blackest black material to date, 10 times blacker than previous record-black materials.

The researchers had actually been experimenting with ways to grow CNTs on electrically conductive materials such as aluminium to boost their electrical and thermal properties, Engadget reported.

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It might be the way that the etched aluminium, on which the oxide layer is removed, combines with the carbon nanotubes in some way, but more research is going to be needed to know for sure. While surprising in itself, the colour came as quite a shock.

"I remember noticing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked even darker", said Cui. “So I thought I should measure the optical reflectance of the sample.

The material was made by "growing" nanotubes on aluminum foil using a complex set of chemical processes.

Be that as it may, the group says the material has down to earth applications, as well. British sculptor Anish Kapoor has exclusive rights to use Vantablack in art projects. Eventually, the material's creators predict, material scientists will design a material that absorbs 100 percent of light. Scientists believe that forests of carbon nanotubes can trap and convert most incoming light to heat, reflecting very little of it back out as light, thereby giving CNTs a particularly black shade.

The material is already gaining interest in the aerospace community.

The fantastic new material could be used in telescopes and cameras to remove glare, and there has already been interest from the aerospace community. And this black has to be tough to withstand a rocket launch.

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