Ultraviolet, visible, infrared and far-infrared light don't stand a chance at reflecting off of a new material NASA has created that absorbs 99 percent of all these types of light.
According to NASA, the material is created using nanotechnology -- in this case, hollow tubes of carbon 10,000 times thinner than human hair positioned in a fashion similar to that of a shag rug -- and will be useful in making space observations where multiple wavelengths of light are involved:
One such application is stray-light suppression. The tiny gaps between the tubes collect and trap background light to prevent it from reflecting off surfaces and interfering with the light that scientists actually want to measure. Because only a small fraction of light reflects off the coating, the human eye and sensitive detectors see the material as black.
"The advantage over other materials is that our material is from 10 to 100 times more absorbent, depending on the specific wavelength band," [NASA Goddard Center Technologist John] Hagopian said.
This technology will help scientists gain otherwise difficult to obtain measurements that are usually so distant in the universe they are not visible to astronomers.
Black material such as this could also be used in infrared-sensing instruments on spacecrafts. Goddard engineer Jim Tuttle said that material such as this could help radiate heat away from instruments into deep space. When instruments are cooler, they will be more sensitive to faint signals.
Compared to other light absorbing technology NASA uses, like black paint, this nano material is more durable under extreme conditions and more lightweight.