All materials, from paper to water, reflect some amount of light. Scientists have long envisioned an ideal black material that absorbs all the colors of light while reflecting none. So far they have been unsuccessful in engineering a material with a total reflectance of zero but each advancement eventually boosts the effectiveness and efficiency of solar energy conversion, infrared sensors and other devices.
The total reflectance of conventional black paint is between 5 and 10 percent. The darkest manmade material to-date boasted a total reflectance of 0.16 percent to 0.18 percent.
Now researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University have set a new standard by using a thin coating comprised of low-density arrays of loosely vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes to create 'the darkest material ever made by man' - it absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light. The researchers who developed the material have applied for a Guinness World Record for their efforts.
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