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New 'blackest black' material absorbs 99.995 percent of light

Researchers at MIT have created what’s being called the blackest black ever — a new material that absorbs at least 99.995 percent of light that shines on it. The researchers made the ultrablack material by accident while looking for ways to improve the conductivity of carbon nanotubes, microscopic filaments with broad applications for energy storage and biomedicine.

“It was unexpected — like a proper scientific discovery,” said Brian Wardle, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and the leader of the team of researchers who created the material. “We were working on a new way to grow nanotubes, and when you make a new material, its properties may be interesting.”

The material, described in a paper published online Sept. 12 in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, is a sort of fuzzy chemical coating some 10 times darker than the previous record-holder. Wardle said it has generated strong interest among scientists and engineers, who see potential applications in astronomy and aerospace.

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