According to the portal sciencedaily.com, MIT engineers were able to create a special material that is 10 times blacker than all that has ever been manufactured before. The unique material is made of vertically aligned carbon tubes grown by specialists on chlorine pre-etched aluminum foil. It is known that foil is capable of capturing more than 99.96 percent of any directional light, which makes it the blackest material in the history of science.
Blacker than black
Despite the fact that the blackest material on the planet was developed by a professor at aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, black foil took part in the New York Stock Exchange exhibition as an exhibit entitled “Atonement for Vanity”. According to estimates, the material created has an estimated cost of $ 2 million and can be used in optics, reducing unwanted glare in order to help modern telescopes in the search for new exoplanets.
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According to the MIT researchers themselves, they were not at all going to create ultra-black material, working on the production of carbon nanotubes on electrically conductive materials in order to increase their thermal properties. However, when trying to grow a nanotube on a thin layer of aluminum, experts unexpectedly faced the problem of the occurrence of aluminum oxide when exposed to air, since most often the oxide layer acts as an insulator, blocking the necessary electricity and heat. While searching for a solution to the problem, the researchers were able to find the right solution in sodium chloride, whose ions corrode the surface of aluminum and dissolve its oxide layer.
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Having discovered that wetted aluminum foil, when placed in an oxygen-free medium and a special furnace for growing carbon nanotubes, helps to build up the material, the researchers were quite surprised by the thermal and electrical properties of the obtained substance. However, the most unexpected discovery for scientists was the color of matter, the optical reflection measurement of which showed an incredible result – matter absorbed more than 99.995% of all incoming light. In fact, if the material contained any bulges or other features, all of them would be simply invisible, being completely hidden by a black void.
Scientists are not quite sure of the mechanism that contributes to the appearance of absolute opacity of the material. So, one of the experts involved in the problem of creating carbon nanotubes, believes that the color of the created matter has to do with the combination of actions performed on etched aluminum. In addition, a large number of nanotubes can convert the bulk of the incoming light into heat, practically not reflecting it back and thereby acquiring a black tint.