Blackest material ever made created by scientists

The nanostructures can absorb 99 per cent of light, the researchers say — 26 per cent more light than any other known material

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Monday 26 October 2015 10:46

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.

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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