reports on a new substance that may give rise to some seriously dark coloring:

Researchers at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered what’s being called the “darkest substance ever” (after Dick Cheney’s heart, presumably). The material is made from carbon nanotubes and is supposedly the closest thing yet to ideal black—meaning that it absorbs all light, regardless of its angle or wavelength. Something tells us we’ll be seeing it on the runways this fall.

But the fun with black carbon nanotubes doesn’t end there! Far from it. RPI’s researchers have developed new batteries based on them!

Rensselaer researchers infused this paper with aligned carbon nanotubes, which give the device its black color. The nanotubes act as electrodes and allow the storage devices to conduct electricity. The device, engineered to function as both a lithium-ion battery and a supercapacitor, can provide the long, steady power output comparable to a conventional battery, as well as a supercapacitor’s quick burst of high energy.

The device can be rolled, twisted, folded, or cut into any number of shapes with no loss of mechanical integrity or efficiency. The paper batteries can also be stacked, like a ream of printer paper, to boost the total power output.

Stylish and cool — but not literally. The original BBC article on the subject suggests these pragmatic uses for this new “darkness” that may have some implications for the arts: Nano-particle paint to prevent corrosion and Thermo-chromic glass to regulate light.