A team of engineers from MIT discovered a new super black material, that too by accident. The team was originally attempting to boost specific properties of electrically conductive materials for which they removed the oxide layer from aluminum and started growing carbon nanotubes on it.
“I remember noticing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked even darker,” researcher Kehang Cui told MIT News. “So I thought I should measure the optical reflectance of the sample.”
This was when they figured out that it had created the world’s new blackest material. At present, the material is being exhibited at an art exhibit in New York, where a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond has been coated in the material, reported Engadget.
The team believes that the new blackest black material has many practical applications as well. According to researcher Brian Wardle, the material can be used in optical blinders that decrease the unwanted glare for helping space telescopes spot orbiting exoplanets. He even believes that the material could still get even blacker.
“There are optical and space science applications for very black materials, and of course, artists have been interested in black, going back well before the Renaissance,” Wardle said. “Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that’s ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually we’ll understand all the underlying mechanisms, and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black.”