Print 19 comment(s) - last by vuchkov.. on Jun 24 at 7:50 AM

BC's newly engineered nanomaterial uses geometic features to capture light.  (Source: Boston College)
New material "perfectly absorbs light," converting it to heat

While research into light refracting metamaterials has produced a few neat, if very small toys, some groups, like the British Royal Navy, are taking cloaking devices quite seriously. Mostly, this type of thing works on negative refraction indexes, the materials merely bend light, visible or otherwise, around themselves. While this would be incredibly useful for Motoko Kusanagi or Klingon Birds of Prey, cloaking materials don't have a lot of use in generic, not blowing up the bad guys, applications.

A collaboration between Boston College and Duke University has developed a metamaterial that might be slightly more useful to scientists and engineers. Their new metallic metamaterial absorbs light perfectly. The resonating materials can absorb both the electrical and magnetic properties of electromagnetic waves over a narrow frequency range, turning the light into heat.

“Three things can happen to light when it hits a material. It can be reflected, as in a mirror. It can be transmitted, as with window glass. Or it can be absorbed and turned into heat. This metamaterial has been engineered to ensure that all light is neither reflected nor transmitted, but is turned completely into heat and absorbed. It shows we can design a metamaterial so that at a specific frequency it can absorb all of the photons that fall onto its surface,” explains Boston College's Willie J. Padilla, a leading researcher in optics and metamaterials.

As the material's properties make it easily scalable, though the absorption range is narrow, it could be tuned to a vast portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some of the possible uses for a material like this include light detectors and electronic imaging applications.

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a new material?
By wordsworm on 6/2/2008 9:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
Does this new material have a name yet? My 2 cents goes for 'metatunes'.

It does seem like a great material for doing things such as heating water before it goes through the boiler tank. Also, if it can heat water enough to create steam, it could very well provide for an interesting form of alternative energy which is also renewable.

RE: a new material?
By ViroMan on 6/3/2008 4:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
Aww crap, the steam driven car is gana make a comeback!

RE: a new material?
By wordsworm on 6/3/2008 8:20:38 AM , Rating: 2
It would sure make for a hot and sweaty city!

RE: a new material?
By HVAC on 6/3/2008 9:04:58 AM , Rating: 2
Think "closed loop" system, people. There is no reason to absorb more light than you need at any one given time and no reason to emit steam.

RE: a new material?
By geddarkstorm on 6/3/2008 5:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Why not also pair it with a thermoelectric material and generate pure electricity at the same time :D?

RE: a new material?
By wordsworm on 6/4/2008 7:47:16 PM , Rating: 2
duh... because it's not as cool as having your own steam engine! I know my horn would go 'choo-choo' and the car would go 'chug-a-chug-a' down the highway.

RE: a new material?
By elgueroloco on 6/5/2008 12:52:32 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, there could be plenty of reason to create steam, such as to power a turbine ala pretty much all power plants. Just make it smaller scale for home power. It might not work out efficiently, but I think it would be an idea worth looking at. You could probably even do it large scale for a commercial plant, like solar thermal.

RE: a new material?
By vuchkov on 6/24/2008 7:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
Please see
Lubomir D. Vuchkov
NEW PROTECTIVE SHIELDS FOR IC SYSTEMS AGAINST HIGHELECTROMAGNETIC PULSES (HPEMP),EC Regional ICT/FP7 Conference “ICT Research and Technology Development for Innovation, Competitiveness and Better Life” BULGARIA, Sofia, 26–27 April, 2007,
or mail to

If only...
By Etsp on 6/2/2008 4:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
If only it wasn't limited to being applied to narrow frequency ranges, it could provide a more efficient type of solar power.

RE: If only...
By A5 on 6/2/2008 5:06:08 PM , Rating: 2
And only if it makes enough heat (aka energy) from the absorption to create a new electron-hole pair for each photon.

RE: If only...
By jadeskye on 6/2/2008 6:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
a shame that it doesn't work as it does in my mind when i read the title.

i was thinking unlimited thermo-elecricity.

RE: If only...
By geddarkstorm on 6/3/2008 5:48:59 PM , Rating: 2
Since the material generates heat, just layer it over some thermal electric material and there you go.

Absorbs all light?
By Davelo on 6/3/2008 4:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm trying to decide if the claim is 100% light absorbsion. If a substance can absorb 100% then shouldn't it be as black as a black hole, kind of like a hole in your vision?

RE: Absorbs all light?
By gweedo1982 on 6/3/2008 6:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think it absorbs 100% of light WITHIN a defined frequency range.

However if it was "tuned" to the visible light spectrum, then in theory it would be invisible. Hence the excitment over possible "cloaking" applications.

(I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.)

RE: Absorbs all light?
By fk49 on 6/3/2008 10:45:34 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry but I'm gonna have to call you out on that one ;)

The article states that light either reflects, transmits or absorbs. If it transmitted all visible light then it would be invisible like glass. Since it absorbs visible light then it would indeed be completely dark like a black hole as OP stated.

By nugundam93 on 6/3/2008 1:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
sweet! a reference to kusanagi! :)

gotta love thermoptic camo.

RE: Kusanagi
By amanojaku on 6/3/2008 4:32:07 PM , Rating: 2
Word. Now, we just have to relax the public nudity laws so more women can copy her outfit. Imagine, naked women in the middle of winter thanks to our new heat-generating metamaterials. Probably be fat chicks wearing it, though. :(

A bit overhyped.
By peldor on 6/4/2008 9:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
They've demonstrated a peak absorbance of 88% at 11.5GHz out of a predicted 96%.

Wait, what's with the hype?
By tmo9d on 6/6/2008 8:04:21 AM , Rating: 2
They created a material that absorbs 88% of radiation in the microwave region of the spectrum. This is "light" as much as any radiation could be considered light. The research in question isn't talking about some tunable cloaking device.

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