Army Wants Black Blacker Than Black

The US Army is looking for a black that's blacker than black. How black? at least 99% of incident light should be absorbed.

OBJECTIVE: Design, develop, prototype, and demonstrate an antireflective coating or surface treatment process for metals that achieves light absorption of at least 95 percent (with a goal of 99 percent) in the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared regions. In addition, this coating or process should allow a surface to selectively exhibit earth color instead of broadband absorption as well as improve the heat transfer properties of the material.

DESCRIPTION: New surface structuring processes and nanodeposition technologies have demonstrated superior antireflective properties and thermal characteristics that improve heat dissipation. They have also demonstrated hydrophobic (water repellent) anticorrosive properties and hydrophilic (water absorbent) evaporative cooling properties. Although the primary aim of this topic is to create an antireflective coating, these other attributes are highly desirable. This technology has been demonstrated in small volumes, and this SBIR effort will determine if large scale applications are possible.

Science fiction fans recall the fuligin from Gene Wolf's Shadow of the Torturer. And the absolute black from Douglas Adams's novel Restaurant at the Edge of the Universe . Both were published in 1980.

Scientifiction fans, on the other hand, recall black coating from Doc Smith's 1942 novel Gray Lensman :

“Well, we have a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive, and I don’t need ports or windows. At that, though, one percent reflection would be enough to give me away at a critical time. How’d it be to put a couple of the boys on that job? Have them put a decimal point after the ninety nine and see how many nines they can tack on behind it?”

Now, that's blacker than black. How about it, US Army?

From Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Proposal Submission Instructions via Wired.

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