N.A.S.A. engineers have developed a material that absorbs more than 99 percent of the light that hits it, including ultraviolet, infrared and far-infrared spectra. The material is a coating made of a thin layer of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, tiny hollow tubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. The material will be useful for a variety of spaceflight applications where observing in multiple wavelength bands is important to scientific discovery.
What’s the Big Idea?
The new material could be a boon for astronomers who depend on faint light to make important discoveries. “If used in detectors and other instrument components, this new technology would allow scientists to gather hard-to-obtain measurements of objects so distant in the universe that astronomers no longer can see them in visible light or those in high-contrast areas, including planets in orbit around other stars,” said John Hagopian, leader of the N.A.S.A. team responsible for the find.