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Darkest Material Ever Created Could Help Us Create More Effective Solar Panels


Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology in Saudi Arabia have been able to create the blackest material so far, one that is so dark it can absorb 98-99% of all the light (across the visible and infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum) that hits it from all angles.

The scientists’ goal is to develop or even change the whole production process of solar panels to create superior, more effective panels that can absorb maximum levels of radiation and polarisation from all angles. The team was also able to create a new light source with lightning the laser at this nanostructured material which produces monochromatic emission without the need of any resonance.

This new material is built with the use of nanoparticle rods that lie on a top of a minuscule nanoparticle sphere, and when diluted into a liquid state, its concentrated form can on average absorb 26% more light than carbon nanotube, the previously most dark material. This opens the door to a whole range of different uses eg. water desalination.

The idea was born from the whiteness in ultra thin beetle scales of the all white beetle from the genus cyphochilus. Their shell scales can mirror the light efficiently so the idea of the researchers was to reverse the process – to create the most dark material known to man.


All white beetle (Cyphochilus) (Image Credits: S.Vignolini)

But it won’t stop there as the goal for them is to produce an even darker material even if it seems almost impossible, as these materials are so dark that the human eyes can’t comprehend them fully and will instead only see an eternal void.

This research was published in Nature Nanotechnology titled: “Harnessing structural darkness in the visible and infrared wavelengths for a new source of light”.

About the author

Warren Simons