World's Darkest Material Looks Like a Black Hole

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Nigel Tufnel, from This is Spinal Tap, said it best: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."

A new material has been developed that’s so devoid of reflection, looking at it is like looking into a black hole. Vantablack, from U.K.-based Surrey Nanosystems, absorbs all but 0.035 percent of the incident light that bounces off it. You can’t see it; you can only see the objects around it.

In fact, the material is so black that even when crumpled, it still looks completely flat.

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“You expect to see the hills [of the bends and crumples] and all you can see … it’s like black, like a hole, like there’s nothing there. It just looks so strange,” the company’s CTO, Ben Jensen, told the Independent.

Back in 2008, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute achieved a similar goal and for a while, their material, which absorbed all but 0.045 percent of light, was the darkest. But now Surrey Nanosystems has surpassed that.

The “Vanta” in Vantablack stands for “vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays.” The array is made from carbon nanotubes grown on aluminum foil in a laboratory. When grown closely packed together, carbon nanotubes allow light to enter, but let very little of that light — ultraviolet, visible, infrared and microwaves — to escape.

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Such super-black material reduces stray light and has a wide range of possible applications, including as a coating for the exterior of stealth craft and weaponry or as a coating for the interior of sensitive telescopes designed to detect some of the faintest faraway objects. It could also be used to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of solar panels and infrared sensors.

Stephen Westland, professor of color science and technology at Leeds University, told the Independent, “These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.”

Credit: Surrey Nanosystems

via Extreme Tech