During an exhibition in New York, scientists from MIT have unveiled the blackest black. The material is made of carbon nanotubes or CNTs, and it is blacker than anything ever made to this day. They reported that the material would absorb 99.995% of light.
The scientists have been experimenting with different options and ways to create these CNTs when they made it by accident. These CNTs are great conductors of electricity and heat, which is the main reason for trying to find out more about them.
MIT’s team tried to find a way to coat aluminum with CNTs, and they realized that a thin layer of oxide would coat it the second it was exposed to air. As a result, this oxide layer would prevent it from conducting electricity and heat. To avoid this, they used salt to dissolve or remove the layer.
They continued the process, but this time, in an oxygen-free area and placed it into the oven to try to grow these CNTs on aluminum. While the initial results showed significantly increased electrical and thermal properties, there was something else that caught their attention.
Aluminum became black. One of the scientists said that they remember how black it was even before they grew nanotubes, and when they finished with the process, it somehow looked even darker. They proceeded to measure the optical reflectance of that piece of aluminum, and they realized that material absorbs 99.995 percent of light regardless of the angle.
Materials coated with this CNT layer will lose their plasticity and absorb any incoming light. Since absorption is so high, the material appears to be two dimensional and looks almost like a silhouette.
The MIT team showed this material on the New York Stock Exchange, where they presented it in an exhibition named the Redemption of Vanity. They took a 16.78-carat diamond and coated it in a CNT layer. As a result, the diamond became almost like a black hole or a shadow. Interestingly, diamonds are the most reflective materials on Earth. Scientists are not yet sure what the reason for the material’s color is.
It is worth mentioning that the previous champion in the field was a material called vantablack, which was able to absorb 99.95 percent of incoming light.