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article imageThe 'blackest black' material ever has been developed

By Tim Sandle     Oct 1, 2019 in Science
New York - Researchers have developed the 'blackest black' material to date. The material is composed from carbon nanotubes, and the material is ten times darker than other material produced to date.
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a material ten times blacker than anything that has gone before. The substance is formed of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (microscopic filaments of carbon).
The new material was grown on a surface of chlorine-etched aluminum foil. The foil was designed to capture 99.96 percent of any incoming light (from every angle), which accounts for the material being the blackest material ever.
The previous ‘blackest’ material ever was Vantablack, and this substance captured 99.965 percent of light.
It is not entirely clear what is the mechanism contributing to the material's opacity, although it is thought to be connected with the etched aluminum, which is somewhat blackened, and the interfacing with the carbon nanotubes. Here forests of carbon nanotubes are able to trap and convert this to heat, reflecting little of it back out as light, creating the especially black shade.
The material has been included as part of an exhibit at the New York Stock Exchange, called "The Redemption of Vanity", and developed by academic Brian Wardle and artist Diemut Strebe. The sculpture includes a16.78-carat natural yellow diamond, coated with the new, ultrablack carbon nanotube material.
Outside of art, the material will have a use in aeronautics and with optical blinders which are needed to reduce unwanted glare in space telescopes.
According to lead researcher Professor Brian Wardle: “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.”
He adds that: “Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that's ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually we will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black."
The research has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, with the research paper headed: “Breakdown of Native Oxide Enables Multifunctional, Free-Form Carbon Nanotube–Metal Hierarchical Architectures.”
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