A team of scientists say they have demonstrated for the first time a way to harness the most ubiquitous coolant available, outer space, to chill structures on Earth's surface throughout the day, including hours of peak sunlight.

They have devised a Dagwood sandwich-like coating that reflects 97 percent of the sunlight striking it while serving as an express lane for infrared radiation – heat – welling up from below. Materials in the layers were selected, and the layers carefully arranged, to alter the wavelengths of upwelling infrared radiation so that they fall within a narrow band of wavelengths that pass unhindered through Earth's atmosphere.

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