Put this stuff on your “tech to watch” list along with magnetic batteries, liquid lenses, and all this stuff. This “black silicon” was ordinary until it was blasted by an incredibly high-powered laser. It’s kind of like a superhero origin story, only in this case he ends up covered in microscopic spikes that (I’m guessing)
multiply the surface area exposable to light by a huge amount compared with a flat surface increase concentration of the dopant (sulfur) on the surface [thanks, Medford]. That’s all well and good, you say, but what good does it do me, sir?
This stuff is different from that “blacker than black” stuff from a while back; this black silicon has proven itself far more sensitive to light than normal silicon, including to wavelengths of infrared light not even detectable by current sensors. Not only that, but it’s compatible with today’s manufacturing techniques, so a whole new process isn’t needed (other than the unbelievably powerful laser). The researchers that created the stuff (by accident, like so many other great discoveries) have kept it under wraps until it was ready to market, and now they have their own company: SiOnyx. That’s quite a company name — it riffs on the product in two distinct ways, and is homonymous with psionics, which as we all know is the fine art of controlling stuff with your mind.