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Researchers develop darkest manmade material
Date:1/22/2008

aterial with a total reflective index of 0.045 percent more than three times darker than the previous record, which used a film deposition of nickel-phosphorous alloy.

The loosely-packed forest of carbon nanotubes, which is full of nanoscale gaps and holes to collect and trap light, is what gives this material its unique properties, Lin said. Such a nanotube array not only reflects light weakly, but also absorbs light strongly. These combined features make it an ideal candidate for one day realizing a super black object.

The low-density aligned nanotube sample makes an ideal candidate for creating such a super dark material because it allows one to engineer the optical properties by controlling the dimensions and periodicities of the nanotubes, said Pulickel Ajayan, the Anderson Professor of Engineering at Rice University in Houston, who worked on the project when he was a member of the Rensselaer faculty.

The research team tested the array over a broad range of visible wavelengths of light, and showed that the nanotube arrays total reflectance remains constant.

Its also interesting to note that the reflectance of our nanotube array is two orders of magnitude lower than that of the glassy carbon, which is remarkable because both samples are made up of the same element carbon, said Lin.

This discovery could lead to applications in areas such as solar energy conversion, thermalphotovoltaic electricity generation, infrared detection, and astronomical observation.

Other researchers contributing to this project and listed authors of the paper include Rensselaer physics graduate student Zu-Po Yang; Rice postdoctoral research associate Lijie Ci; and Rensselaer senior research scientist James Bur.

The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energys Office of Basic Energy Sciences and the Focus Center New York for Interconnects.

Lins research was conducted as part of the Fu
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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