Abstract by Kevin Laughlin
Physics and Astronomy
Mechanically robust ultra-black materials
By reducing stray light, detectors such as astronomical cameras, infrared sensors, etc. could all be improved. This can be accomplished by using an ultra-black material to absorb stray light. Vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNT) are the darkest material discovered so far, but they are difficult to grow on most surfaces, and they are very fragile which makes them difficult to transfer to a surface after they are grown. One solution has been to use a spray on ultra-black material, but this film is an order of magnitude less absorptive than the VACNTs. By using VACNTs that are strengthened on one side, they can become robust enough to be transferred onto a flexible substrate, which could then be cut and placed onto any desired surface. I have developed a mechanically robust VACNT structure that retains its ultra-high absorption by reinforcing one side of the VACNT structure with amorphous carbon. This VACNT structure is then released from the substrate by pealing it off with double sided sticky tape. The absorbance was measured over a wide range of wavelengths using an integrating sphere and a spectrometer.