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NASA Excited About Super-Black Material

The organization hopes to use the new material to be able to look deeper into space and discover objects that cannot be detected in visible light or high-contrast areas.

Super-black materials are likely to help scientists to discover faint signals in their data, which is difficult with current black paint that only absorbs 90 percent of light. NASA also mentioned that black paints do not remain black in cryogenic temperature environments and change to a "shiny, slightly silver quality" instead.

To create the new material, NASA used a coating based on multi-walled carbon nanotubes, which are placed vertically on various substrate materials such as silicon, silicon nitride, titanium, and stainless steel. This positioning enables the material to capture stray light. According to NASA, the gaps between the tubes trap light and prevent it from "reflecting off surfaces and interfering with the light that scientists actually want to measure." Since only a minimal portion of the light is reflected, the human eye sees the material as being black.

Such developments may have applications that go well beyond space applications. For example, the blacker the material, the more heat it can dissipate, NASA said. "Super-black materials, like the carbon nanotube coating, can be used on devices that remove heat from instruments and radiate it away."

For NASA's purposes this benefit mainly relates to an effect that helps cooling instruments in space, but we are sure that there will be applications in everyday life as well.