The new and unnamed ultra-black element is created from straightly aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs), nano carbon strings that bear a close resemblance to the fuzzy trees of a forest according to the research group behind the project.
And here’s an interesting fact about it – this CNT material can take in more than 99.995 percent of incoming light. This is considerably more than the 99.96 percent that Vantablack is able to absorb.
“To be precise, it reflected 10 times less light than all other super-black materials. This obviously includes Vantablack,” told an MIT release.
And as we have seen in the past with science and with the best discoveries and inventions— this was discovered by accident.
The researchers tried to find routes to grow CNTs on electrically conductive objects like aluminum, and it was in these processes that they would end up noticing the blackness of the materials they were used to treat was on specially treated aluminum foil.
“To be honest I recall observing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked way more black,” told mechanical engineer Kehang Cui, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.
“Then it felt like I should measure the optical reflectance of this to know more”.
This led to the ultra-powerful light absorption characteristics being analyzed – from every given angle, the material absorbed virtually all the light which was directed at it.
“I doubt that the blackest black is a fixed thing. I believe it is a constantly moving entity,” observed aeronautics and astronautics professor Brian Wardle, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Someone will definitely find a darker material, and that will help us understand all the underlying properties, and will be able to properly create the ultimate black.”
The research can be read in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.