|MadSci Network: Physics|
Black is usually considered the best surface color because it tends to give up most of its heat through radiation (remember the "black-body" radiation). The "black" color of "Black body radiation" refers to the fact that this theoretical material "gives up" all wavelengths of radiation equally well. Of course, the amount of radiation that is emitted depends on the temperature (see a black-body radiation curve). Your are absolutely right that the more surface area, the better of an emitter the object is. Emission is directly proportional to surface area. Now you must also consider the practical local effects of the surrounding medium (e.g., air) and its ability to handle and "pull away" the heat generated by the object. As far as types of metals go, I'm not sure which materials are best. I know that a lot of heat sinks are made of aluminum or a titanium alloy. This may be due to a combination of the weight and heat-sinking ability. The SR-71, for example, uses a titanium alloy skin to dissipate the extremely high temperatures generated by the hypersonic speeds of the aircraft, and titanium is often used within jet engine components for the same reason. Special coatings are often used on heat sinks that bond closely to the metals. I don't think that these are paints, but rather an anodized coating. You might look to heat sink manufacturers for some more info. Good luck, Todd Jamison Observera, Inc. Chief Scientist
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