Laser Detector Uses 'darkest' Material

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve used the world’s darkest material — a forest of carbon nanotubes — to develop a sophisticated laser power detector.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology will use the ultra-dark detector to make precision laser power measurements for advanced technologies such as optical communications, laser-based manufacturing, solar energy conversion, and industrial and satellite-borne sensors, an institute release said Wednesday.

The nanotube coating absorbs laser light and converts it to heat. The rise in temperature generates a current, which is measured to determine the power of the laser.

The blacker the coating, the more efficiently it absorbs light instead of reflecting it, and the more accurate the measurements, researchers say.

Their coating reflects almost no light in the visible spectrum and part of the infrared spectrum, they say.

The new coating is a vertical forest of multiwalled nanotubes, each less than 10 nanometers in diameter and about 160 micrometers long. The deep hollows help trap light, and the random pattern diffuses any reflected light in various directions, the institute’s release said.

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Categorized | Other, Solar
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