Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Tech Forecast

NASA Creating Blackest Materials Ever Measured

A partnership between NASA and an Australian laboratory is creating the blackest objects ever measured by humanity.

  • <p>Working on nanotubes at the Melbourne Center for Nanofabrication.</p>
  • <p>NASA's John Hagopian working on nanotubes.</p>
  • <p>Applying atomic layer deposition to an occulter mask.</p>
  • 01 /03

    Working on nanotubes at the Melbourne Center for Nanofabrication.

  • 02 /03

    NASA's John Hagopian working on nanotubes.

  • 03 /03

    Applying atomic layer deposition to an occulter mask.

Carbon nanotubes are tiny, tube-like structures that are expected to play a big role in the 21st century. NASA especially likes nanotubes because, when grown under the right conditions, they are the blackest materials ever made by man and can significantly improve the performance of space telescopes by reducing glare. Now NASA and an Australian lab are among the first organizations to ever create these nanotubes with a new technique called Atomic layer deposition.

NASA and the Melbourne Center for Nanofabrication worked on the project through a collaborative scientific services marketplace called Science Exchange. NASA's principal investigator for the project, John Hagopian, said that "The growth of nanotubes directly onto an ALD catalyst is a new and emerging technique."

It's a new and emerging technique with big repercussions for science. The nanotubes NASA creates are almost ten times darker than the darkest black paint available, and have extraordinary thermal conductivity properties.

[Top Image: Aerogel/Slideshow images: Science Exchange]