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RPI Creates the Darkest Material On Earth

I came across an article recently written by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that discusses a discovery made by RPI – a material made from a loosely populated coating of carbon nanotubes that has a reflectance of 0.045. This is ground breaking – the current standard is 1.4%. Researchers have developed this material coating to facilitate better solar energy absorption, and this is a great thing considering that we need to develop some new technologies to overcome our addiction to oil. From the article:

“It is a fascinating technology, and this discovery will allow us to increase the absorption efficiency of light as well as the overall radiation-to-electricity efficiency of solar energy conservation,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, professor of physics at Rensselaer and a member of the university’s Future Chips Constellation, who led the research project. “The key to this discovery was finding how to create a long, extremely porous vertically aligned carbon nanotube array with certain surface randomness, therefore minimizing reflection and maximizing absorption simultaneously.”

This is an excellent discovery on many levels. Outside of the uses for Solar Power Generation and increasing the amount of sunlight we can harness and utilize, a designer like myself has to consider the usage of such a material in the entertainment lighting arena as well – a material that reflects nearly no light almost makes lighting designers’ jokes about a “light sponge” for those spots on the stage or production where you don’t want light a reality. Imagine whole soft goods made of a coating of this material. Imagine scenic paint composed of this material. The possibilities are endless.

Check out the rest of RPI’s article here.