NASA, Super-Black Material, Nanotube. (news)

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 3, 2011
NASA Develops Super-Black Material That Absorbs Light Across Multiple Wavelength Bands
"NASA engineers 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. ..."
Carbon never stops to amaze me.

One thing bugs me a little though. (lack of specific knowledge in this area on my part no doubt.)
The blacker the material, the more heat it radiates away.
As I don't really see what the absorption level/behavior for visible light of a material has to do with its heat dissipation level/efficiency.

As its also highly absorbent in the far-infrared ... that kinda bags the question at what range in the EM spectrum it might actually radiating the absorbed light(energy) out again. If it matters that is. (No mention of any chemical processes here, so assuming there is none to speak of.)

Wonder if this might make it in the James Webb Space Telescope. ... Well, If the telescope itself will make it of course. Fingers crossed. :)

Bare links:


Joined Mar 24, 2008
Goes to the black body theories. The more black a material is across the spectrum, the closer to the physics ideal it approaches. True black absorbs heat from EM radiation, and it radiates it away just efficiently.

It is also why incandescent light bulbs are rated by temperature, °K.


Joined Oct 26, 2011
Quote: that kinda bags the question at what range in the EM spectrum it might actually radiating the absorbed light(energy) out again?

Good question--My guess is that at all wavelengths, but since the visible light spectrum is so narrow, 99% will be radiated as IR and UV.

I have fooled around with IR LED emitters and IR Diode Detectors applied as reflective detectors--and have learned that IR is a different world--especially in my attempts to identify a readily available surface that is black to IR.

Yes, I was able to detect objects, but was unable to mask unwanted stuff like mechanical support structure etc. Surfaces that are black to visible light are generally not black to IR--those that are black to IR are frangible--touch and destroy

Carbon is neat stuff--I have read about buckyballs

The most mind-blowing one though is suggested in regard to the moon, Iapetus:

Nanotubes do not appear until you get into part 5, but your mind is already blown by then... Part 6 will vaporize the remainder...

This stuff is better than Isaac Asimov!
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Thread Starter


Joined Nov 3, 2011
This page on black body radiation I found a nice read. (first part, second math part was quickly skipped.)

Although I still feel I'm not there yet.

Mmm, I also found this one, dated at March 31, 2009. (by way of comments.)

If this is right it seems NASA is tying to pull a other fast one. (Arsenic bacteria anyone. :rolleyes: )

oops ... although I might try reading even more/better before posting ...
"seriously, try actually reading the article. It clearly states that they have improved the absorption by 10 to 100 times over previous nanotube coatings, and improved the wavelength range by 50 times."
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