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MIT scientists create material that absorbs 99.995% of light

by Ace Damon
MIT scientists create material that absorbs 99.995% of light

Technology ensures a coverage 10 times darker than any ever created. See video.

By Guilherme Eler

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Sep 20, 2019, 8:33 pm

(Andy Faria / Super Interesting)

Those who have been with SUPER for a longer time may remember Vantablack, a pigment developed by the English company Surrey NanoSystems in 2014. The first time technology hit faces two years ago, it was presented as “the darkest substance in existence” .

As you can see later, it was not just a force of expression: it may not look like it, but the statue below was not roughly cropped in some image editing software. It's naturally black like that, thanks to Vantablack's spray coating.

MIT scientists create material that absorbs 99.995% of light

Awesome, no? As you can see in this video, which shows a stadium in South Korea covered with special paint, Vantablack's absurd ability to absorb sunlight makes everything look 2D. The pigment is capable of retaining 99.995% of the sun's rays, and was even used to eliminate glare on telescope and monitoring satellite lenses.

What's new is that researchers at MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) in the United States sign a creation that promises to debunk any other ultra-dark substance, such as Vantablack. The material in question is 10 times blacker than anything ever created, the scientists argue, braking up to 99.995% of the light.

The idea of ​​the invention is much the same: to use millions of carbon nanotubes, lining up very close to each other – as if it were an ultra dense and closed forest. The rays of light get caught between nanotubes and thus cannot escape, which gives the painted object an incredibly dark appearance. The luminous energy of the sun's rays is converted into heat, which results in this extreme black.

The main difference is that the MIT-developed roof joins these carbon nanostructures with an ultra-thin layer of aluminum – an electrically efficient conductive material – enriched with sodium chloride.

The idea was put into practice in style. The first highlight application was a 16.78 carat yellow diamond, estimated at $ 2 million. It was covered with the pigment created at MIT and placed on the “Redemption of vanity” art exhibition, open to the public in New York until November 25. The result is that the normally shiny gem appears to be a dark, empty space, as you can see in the video below.

"There are many scientific applications for ultra-dark materials in fields such as optics and space science," said Brian Wardle, MIT professor who helped organize the diamond exhibition, in statement.

“Our material is 10 times darker than anything else, but I believe that achieving the 'blackest black in the world' is a mission that is always a step away. Someone will discover even darker material, and eventually we will understand the mechanisms that surround it, and thus we will be able to create the ultimate black, ”he said. Considering that the material created at MIT only misses 0.005% of the light it receives, it can be said that science is as close as ever to achieving this feat.

Research describing the new material has been published. in the scientific journal ACS applied materials and interfaces.

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