January 15, 2008
That's really dark

It's a known scientific fact that any article about science-y things that starts off with a quote from This Is Spinal Tap is worth reading.

A scientist at Rice University has created the darkest material known to man, a carpet of carbon nanotubes that reflects only 0.045 percent of all light shined upon it. That's four times darker than the previously darkest known substance, and more than 100 times darker than the paint on a black Corvette.

"The final numbers, when we measured how dark this material was, were more dramatic than we thought," said Pulickel M. Ajayan, a professor of engineering at Rice University who led the team that developed the substance.

The work was published last week in the journal Nano Letters.


Ajayan said his team has applied to Guiness World Records. Developing a dark material is an easier way to gain admittance to the book than, say, eating 36 cockroaches in a minute, which Ken Edwards of England did in the year 2001.

"For me, yes," Ajayan said. "But I can't speak for every person."

The new material has some potential applications.

As it absorbs nearly all light, Ajayan said it could be useful in the collection and storage of solar energy.

Also, as it minimizes the scatter of stray light, it could improve optical instruments such as telescopes.

But for Ajayan, the aim is purely one of scientific discovery.

"There's a fundamental joy in such a fascinating study," he said.

Awesome, dude.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 15, 2008 to Technology, science, and math
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