A section of the super-black coating, which was grown on smooth silicon, purposely removed to show the tubes' vertical alignment (Image: Stephanie Getty, NASA Goddard)
The new super-black coating made from hollow carbon nanotubes prevents reflection because the tiny gaps between the tubes collect and trap light (Image: Stephanie Getty, NASA Goddard)
When it comes to gathering measurements of objects so distant in the universe that they can no longer be seen in visible light, the smallest amount of stray light can play havoc with the sensitive detectors and other instrument components used by astronomers. Currently, instrument developers use black paint on baffles and other components to help prevent stray light ricocheting off surfaces, but the paint absorbs only 90 percent of the light that strikes it. NASA engineers have now developed a nanotech-based coating that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it, making it promising for a variety of space- and Earth-bound applications.
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