The development could also advance fundamental science.
A material that reflects no light is known as an ideal “black body.” No such material has been available to scientists, until now.
Researchers could use an ideal black body to shed light on quantum mechanics, the much-touted theory from physics that explains the inherent “weirdness” of the atomic realm.
Schubert and his coworkers have only made several samples of the new material to prove it can be done, but the oblique angle evaporation technique is already widely used in industry, and the design can be applied to any type of substrate not just an expensive semiconductor such as aluminum nitride.
Several other Rensselaer researchers also were involved with the project: Professors Shawn-Yu Lin and Jong Kyu Kim; and graduate students J.-Q. Xi, Martin F. Schubert, and Minfeng Chen.
Illustration: To achieve a very low refractive index, silica nanorods are deposited at an angle of precisely 45 degrees on top of a thin film of aluminum nitride.