Picture of the Day: Super Light-Absorbent Material

light-absorbingmaterial.jpg

NASA engineers at the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, have produced a material -- a coating -- made of multi-walled carbon nanotubes that is highly light-absorbent. Carbon nanotubes are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair. The material absorbs 99 percent of ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that reaches it, making it 10 to 100 times more absorbent than NASA's existing light-absorbent materials, depending on which part of the light spectrum is compared. The scientists believe the material will be useful for instruments trying to measure the light from distant planets and other objects. In the above picture, showing an area only .03 inches wide, a section of the material has been removed in order to show the alignment of the carbon nanotubes.

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Image: NASA.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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