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World’s Darkest Material

February 4, 2008

Scientists have invented a material three times darker than the previous world record.


The world’s darkest material. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have recently applied for a Guinness World Record for inventing the world’s darkest material. It’s made up of very thin, long carbon nanotubes that are ideal for trapping light so that almost none reflects back. Optical scientist Shawn-Yu Lin led the research team. He says that while an average blackboard reflects 10-15% of light, the new material reflects just a tiny fraction of one percent.

SHAWN-YU LIN (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute):
It’s as if in the night you look into a dark forest and nothing comes back to you. That dark. So it’s total darkness, if you will.

The new material could be used to increase the efficiency of solar energy production, or even render objects invisible. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.