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NASA Goddard work on super-black material opens new frontiers in space exploration

09 November 2011

NASA engineers including SPIE Member John Hagopian have produced a material that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it -- a development that promises to open new frontiers in space technology. The team of engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, reported their findings recently at SPIE Optics + Photonics.

The ground-breaking development is gaining wide notice across the photonics community.

The nanotech-based coating is a thin layer of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, tiny hollow tubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. They are positioned vertically on various substrate materials much like a shag rug. The team has grown the nanotubes on silicon, silicon nitride, titanium, and stainless steel, materials commonly used in space-based scientific instruments.

Tests indicate that the nanotube material is especially useful for a variety of spaceflight applications where observing in multiple wavelength bands is important to scientific discovery.

Co-authors with Hagopian on the paper are Stephanie Getty, Manuel Quijada, and Raymond Kinzer.

Read the full press release from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read the abstract and access the full paper in the SPIE Digital Library.