Ron Weasley's Deluminator in the Harry Potter series has the power to absorb all light. In real life, scientists have developed something similar - a material so dark it absorbs 99 percent of all light that hits it in all angles.
Carbon nanotubes were the darkest materials known to man, but the new super-black material is 26 percent darker than its predecessor.
Researchers from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology took inspiration from an all-white beetle called cyphochilus, whose all-white shell suggests that it is capable of reflecting so much light. Working in reverse, the scientists got to work and created a super-black material, the darkest ever known to man, that absorbs all light that hits it.
Nanoparticle rods sitting on top of a nanoparticle sphere were used to create the super-black material. The sphere measures 30 nanometer (nm) in diameter. This created an uneven surface that has a random pattern of pits with super long metallic waveguides. The super-black surface can absorb light up to 99 percent in the spectrum that ranges between 400 and 1,400nm.
The resulting color is so dark that the human eye is unable to see it. People who have laid their eyes on the materials said it felt as if they were looking deep into a bottom abyss or a black hole.
When the researchers fired a laser into the material, they created a new light source. The super-black can also be transformed into liquid form, wherein the material can absorb 26 percent more energy or light compared to carbon nanotubes.
"Harnessing structural darkness in the visible and infrared wavelengths for a new source of light," the researchers wrote.
This enables the material to be used in various applications, including desalination projects. The research team is confident that the material can make an innovation in fiber optic technology.
Scientists hope to use the super-black material not just to improve the efficiency of solar panels but also alter the way they are created. Their research will help in pushing the solar panel technology to greater heights - the blacker the material used, the more light or energy it absorbs.
Still, the super-black material leaves one percent of light unabsorbed. It goes to show that despite scientific advantages, there is always light even in the darkest places.
The research was published in Nature Nanotechnology on Oct. 19.