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Thursday, February 21, 2021

Black is not a color so much as it’s the negation of color: A shade that absorbs 99 percent or more of the entire light spectrum directed at it, thereby reflecting back the minimal amount to make it visible. (White is the same condition, only reversed to absorb most of the spectrum.)

But there’s black, and then there’s superblack: Researchers have cooked up a thin material that absorbs 99.955 percent of the light that hits it, making it by far the darkest substance ever made — about 30 times as dark as the government’s current standard for blackest of blacks.

Sort of a visual black hole that sucks up illumination. Applications abound:

Solar panels coated with it would be much more efficient than those coated with conventional black paint, which reflects 5 percent or more of incoming light. Telescopes lined with it would sop up random flecks of incidental light, providing a blacker background to detect faint stars.

And a wide array of heat detectors and energy-measuring devices, including climate-tracking equipment on satellites, would become far more accurate than they are today if they were coated with energy-grabbing superblack.

And the light-refracting nature of this phenomenon opens up the possibilities for invisibility cloaking. Although you wouldn’t be able to see anything from behind that donned cloak, since all the light is being absorbed more or less absolutely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/21/2008 08:54:27 AM
Category: Creative, Science
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