Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York have made black paint that absorbs light almost perfectly.
The paint is the "darkest man-made material ever", according to the team, reflecting just 0.045 per cent of light.
Normal black paint reflects between five and 10 per cent, and the new black is almost 30 times darker than the carbon used by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology as the current standard.
"The application will be for things like more efficient solar cells, more efficient solar panels and any application where you need to harvest light."
The paint uses a thin layer of carbon nanotubes which trap light waves inside their cylindrical structures. This can be used by solar cells to trap more energy and hopefully produce new levels of efficiency.
"The periodic nanotube structures make an ideal candidate for creating superdark materials because it allows us to tailor light absorption by controlling the dimensions and periodicities of nanotubes in the structure," said Dr Pulickel Ajayan, the paint's inventor.
The team is now testing the material with ultraviolet and infrared light waves to determine whether the paint has any applications in the defence industries as an aid to stealth.
They are also applying to Guinness World Records for the official blackness record.
Dr Ajayan currently holds the world record as co-inventor of the smallest brush.
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