The blackest black: New coating absorbs 99.99 percent of light
The Redemption of Vanity by Diemut Strebe
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - MIT scientists and engineers have created a coating that they say is at least 10 times darker than every other man-made material on earth. 
Created from vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes grown on chlorine-etched aluminum foil, the material absorbs 99.995 percent of visible light. 
The Redemption of Vanity by Diemut Strebe
The project began with MIT artist Diemut Strebe, who came up with the idea in her conceptual art piece, The Redemption of Vanity.
The $2 million 16.78-carat yellow diamond - donated by New York-based L.J.West Diamonds in support of Strebe's art project - was then coated with the ultrablack material, which was developed with the help of MIT professor Brian Wardle. The gem now appears as a flat, black void.
Wardle says the material, aside from making an artistic statement, may also be of practical use, for instance in optical blinders that reduce unwanted glare, to help space telescopes spot orbiting exoplanets.
“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 says. “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.”
The material absorbs light from all angles and scientists say it reflects 10 times less light than all other superblack materials. It also makes ridges or imperfections visually non-existent.
"If the material contained bumps or ridges, or features of any kind, no matter what angle it was viewed from, these features would be invisible, obscured in a void of black."



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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].