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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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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.


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