Mind & Matter


Perfect Black

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Carbon Black Body, by the National Metrology Institute of Japan. Photo: Tatsuya Yamaji.


The burgeoning field of daylighting often prioritizes materials that can propagate light deeply into interior spaces. However, light-reflecting materials are not ideal for every situation; rather, light absorption is often desired to minimize glare and solar heat gain.

A look at the most light-absorptive materials reveals a recent discovery by the National Metrology Institute of Japan, which claims to have developed the darkest matter on earth. Similar to the UK National Physical Laboratory’s Super Black, the so-called Carbon Black Body absorbs close to 99 percent of incident light. Made up of carbon nanotubes arranged in a structure that maximizes light absorption, the substance appears as a void rather than a material—a black hole that subsumes even the flash from a camera (as shown in the picture above).

Not only does Carbon Black Body put a stop to glare, but it also makes an ideal material for displays requiring better shadow fidelity, as well as for efficient infrared sensors and heating elements.


Comments (1 Total)

  • Posted by: clairecelsi | Time: 1:50 PM Monday, July 19, 2010

    I want someone to make perfectly black pants that never fade. Anybody? Anybody?

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.