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Science

The Blackest Material 299

Posted by kdawson
from the reflect-on-this dept.
QuantumCrypto writes "Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created 'the world's first material that reflects virtually no light.' This anti-reflection technology is based on nanomaterial and could lead to the development of more efficient solar cells, brighter LEDs, and 'smarter' light sources. In theory, if a room were to be coated with this material, switching on the lights would only illuminate the items in the room and not the walls, giving a sense of floating free in infinite space."
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The Blackest Material

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  • by purpledinoz (573045) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:09PM (#18244510)
    It says that it reflects virtually no light. I wonder if that includes the frequencies that are used for radar. If it doesn't reflect any radar signals, that could radically change military aircraft. Currently, military aircraft use shape as well as radar absorbing materials to achieve their stealthy-ness. Imagine if you can coat an F-16 with this stuff, and bam, you have a pretty cheap stealth fighter.
  • Re:Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NotHereOrThere (796706) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:13PM (#18244558)
    The TFA is about a perfectly black coating that reflects nothing. This does not imply that it is transparent as you seem to be inferring.
  • Re:tsk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ghoti (60903) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:16PM (#18244580) Homepage
    What is actually interesting though is that even the combined wisdom of all the Firehose users has not been able to spot the dupe (and a bunch of others). You can still blame the editors for posting the dupe, but this collaborative filtering should really go much further.
  • Re:Actually... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bill Dog (726542) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:21PM (#18244638) Journal
    By "reflects virtually no light", read "absorbs virtually all light". Hence the applicability, for example, in creating much more efficient solar panels.

    Not to mention moving us one step closer, possibly, to having a real Holodeck!
  • Re:Military use? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:24PM (#18244696) Homepage Journal

    I hate to be a warmonger here, but this stuff could probably be used in military applications as well, probably for night ops and the like. A modern day ninja outfit with this stuff comes to mind


    Contrary to popular belief, the best color for urban night camoflage is not solid black. Depending on the environment, it's either charcoal grey (for general hard-to-see-ness), or irregularly-patterned greys (to break up the outline of your body).
  • by GiovanniZero (1006365) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:32PM (#18244766) Homepage Journal
    Assuming this isn't just vaporware...

    This stuff could be really cool for use in MRIs or other tight spaces that claustrophobics normally have to go into. It would give those that are normally afraid to be in small spaces the sense that they were in a vastly infinite space. That's pretty cool IMO.

    I'd also like to have my home theater coated with this stuff, think about how large your house would feel! Even with low level ceilings.

  • Re:Military use? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:42PM (#18244872) Homepage

    I hate to be a warmonger here, but this stuff could probably be used in military applications as well, probably for night ops and the like. A modern day ninja outfit with this stuff comes to mind


    Contrary to popular belief, the best color for urban night camoflage is not solid black. Depending on the environment, it's either charcoal grey (for general hard-to-see-ness), or irregularly-patterned greys (to break up the outline of your body).
    Indeed. This is because everything occurring in nature tends to reflect some light, even in the dark, when there isn't much to reflect. Solid black doesn't reflect enough, and subsequently actually stands out like a big empty void in a gray jumble of dimness.
  • Fuligin! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Diomedes01 (173241) on Monday March 05, 2007 @07:54PM (#18245002)
    One step closer to getting a Fuligin cloak for that Severian costume I've always wanted to wear to Halloween parties.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday March 05, 2007 @08:16PM (#18245206)
    Apparently they only thought it couldn't get more black. Now it seems somebody has learned how to turn the black up to 11. I smell a new album... (and the glove).
  • Re:Outside (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal (534799) on Monday March 05, 2007 @10:18PM (#18246140)
    I agree mostly, but note I did say pixels of zero. I meant by that absolute pure black, complete absence of reflectance. In a normally-lit scene I would expect no things would be completely down on the 'floor' i.e. r=0 b= g=0 and so pure black could be keyable. True pure black would not exist on people or objects but would with this background material, allowing a new approach in lighting. One of the problems I find with dynamic range in movie images is that the shadows/black usually block up, but in nature, we tend to see a little detail in black. With this new material, one could therefore could light everything so shadows would not block completely to black, and I would think it would allow better dynamic range compositionally. Other than that, I understand what you said and agree.
  • Re:Outside (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal (534799) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:01PM (#18246416)
    Coat the inside of cameras (and lens barrels), yes, great application!

    Sine I posted, I realized there are some flaws in my model of the luminance dynamics and in the post-processing, so I have to go rethink that all. My film work was decades ago and mostly industrial anyway.

    I wonder if the military already has some form of this material, by the way. Er, probably captured from a crashed saucer, of course. (cough)

  • Re:Military use? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BiggerBoat (690886) on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @12:53AM (#18246952)
    Quite so.

    I remember one summer night in Yosemite when my brother and I spent an hour lying on our backs on one of the approved boardwalks across one of the meadows taking in the impressive night sky. I was astonished at how "other than black" the peaks and everything else around us were compared to the blackness of Space above, when, without the clear night sky to compare them to, I would have sworn that I was looking at some "pure blacks" among my Earthly surroundings. I was impressed by the contrast that I would not have believed was there had I not seen it with my own eyes.
  • 4x reflectors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by purduephotog (218304) <hirsch AT inorbit DOT com> on Tuesday March 06, 2007 @07:23AM (#18248440) Homepage Journal
    At Kodak when we needed 'black' to capture no matter how much light was tossed on the film (for targets) we used a special designed prism- it consisted of 4 highly polished black angled walls and an aperture that, given any direction light would enter, would require a minimum of 4x reflections in order to exit.

    Each of the walls reflected 0.1% of the light.... so the entire setup reflected 0.1^4 (%).... or about 'nothing'.

    Anyway... The real reason I posted here is there's a guy on Ebay selling virtual backdrops. He bought a whole bunch from one of the photography forumns, and then photographed them in- and cells a single chroma key background, with the CD of the other background. He's making a pretty penny :)

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

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