Common black paint absorbs, at most, 90 per cent of the light that hits it. So a new coating developed by Nasa engineers that absorbs more than 99 per cent of the incoming spectrum – not just visible light, but also ultraviolet, infrared and far-infrared – qualifies as “superblack”. The coating is basically a shag carpet of carbon nanotubes. Incoming light is trapped in the tiny gaps between the tubes instead of being reflected. Ultrasensitive space telescopes could use these materials to prevent photons from straying into
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