Scientists have created the blackest material ever made, so dark that it can absorb almost all light that hits it.
The researchers, who were inspired by a completely white beetle, hope that the super-black material could help develop better and more efficient solar panels or completely change the way that they are made.
The new material absorbs 99 per cent of light, at all angles, making it 26 per cent darker than carbon nanotubes, which are the darkest material before known.
The ideal thing to absorb energy would be a dark material that “absorbs radiation and at all angles and polarisations”, the researchers write. That aim is probably impossible, but scientists still aspire to create ever darker materials.
Solar panels around the world
Solar panels around the world
Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the Chint Group office building in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
On 13 October 2011 France launched its largest-ever solar energy farm, with an array of panels spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres) in the mountainous southern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region in Les Mees. With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million)
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Solar Panels, Photovoltaic array at the University of New Mexico, Taos campus, USA
Large solar panels are seen in a solar power plant in Hami, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region
Some of the panels of France's biggest photovoltaic power station in Bordeaux. This station, with its 60.000 panels set on the parking of the Bordeaux-Lac international fair was launched in May 2012
Built on a former NATO base, this is one of the most important photovoltaic plant in France, located at Crucey near Chartres. It was developed by electricity provider EDF (Electricite de France)
The project manager from solar century walks between lines of solar panels erected at Weighbridge, Wheal Jane, Baldhu near Truro, England. Launched in 2011, this was the first solar farm in the South West and biggest in the UK
A worker climbs over a solar panel at a solar factory in Longyou county, Zhejiang province
Workers install solar panels containing photovoltaic cells at the new Solarpark Eggersdorf solar park in 2012 near Muencheberg, Germany. The park, which was being built by German solar energy operator juwi Solar GmbH and contains 85,000 solar modules and is one of many similar projects in eastern Germany
In 2010 homeowners had solar panels installed this month as growing numbers of people and companies look to cash in on the Government's renewable energy scheme
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In 2009 a solar panel system was installed on the roof of a business building in Gainesville, Florida. Gainesville became the first city in the nation to have a solar feed-in tariff ordinance which meant owners of new solar photovoltaic systems were eligible to receive 32 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced by the system over the next 20 years
People who have seen previously record-breaking dark materials say that doing so is "strange" and "alien" because it is so dark that the human eye can't comprehend it, and instead just sees an unending abyss.
The idea initially came from a beetle known as cyphochilus — which is all white. But the scales on the insect mean that its shell reflects light efficiently, which scientists took the idea of and turned it the other way around.
The material is created using nanoparticle rods that sit on a tiny nanoparticle sphere.
It can also be diluted into a liquid, meaning that it can be created and then used easily in a range of different contexts.
The researchers also managed to fire a laser at the material and create a new light source.
The research, ‘Harnessing structural darkness in the visible and infrared wavelengths for a new source of light’, is published in Nature Nanotechnology.
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