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Science & Technology

Scientists invent world's blackest material

By T.K. Randall
July 14, 2014 · Comment icon 43 comments

The material will be used in optical equipment. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Known as Vantablack, the mysterious material is so dark that it's like looking in to a black hole.
Developed by UK-based company Surrey NanoSystems, the ingenious invention has set a new world record by absorbing all but 0.035% of the visible light that hits it.

Constructed from carbon nanotubes each with a width 10,000 times smaller than that of a human hair, the material appears so black to the human eye that its almost impossible to make out any folds, creases or other physical features.
"Many people think black is the absence of light," said Prof Stephen Westland of Leeds University. "I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light. These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine."

Vantablack has been designed for use in telescopes, astronomical cameras and infrared scanners, but if you did create a dress out of it then the person wearing it would most likely appear as little more than a disembodied head and limbs floating mysteriously around a dress-shaped hole.

Source: Independent | Comments (43)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #34 Posted by lightly 10 years ago
it reflects virtually no light... which means it would stick out like a black blob in contrast to anything around it that does reflect light.. no matter how little?
Comment icon #35 Posted by David-C 10 years ago
What does black taste like? chicken
Comment icon #36 Posted by RadicalX 10 years ago
Aborbs light.... Good concept for efficient solar panels, however cost if implementing such expensive nanotechnology in the present doesnt weigh out the benefits.... Large scale mass production... Obstructions by major energy producers... Installations....... This being said... That just one of the alternative ways we can use it..... Maybe countless others
Comment icon #37 Posted by StarMountainKid 10 years ago
Reminds me of a scene in 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' by Douglas Adams where I think it's Arthur Dent is looking at a space ship that is so black he can't keep looking at it, his eyes just roll off it. I think that's how it went.
Comment icon #38 Posted by Sundew 10 years ago
Would I be correct in assuming that because this material is so good at absorbing certain wavelengths of energy, it probably also would get quite hot when exposed to sunlight? Most dark materials do, but this might get somewhat hotter.
Comment icon #39 Posted by Misanthropic 10 years ago
i like, i like. i wonder if it would be more slimming, for those carrying too much flubber?
Comment icon #40 Posted by Rlyeh 10 years ago
Apologies I got the sentence wrong thanks for being sarcastic .I meant Humans also have limited sound perception. No problems.
Comment icon #41 Posted by Sundew 10 years ago
The secret formula: 1 part soul of Nazi camp guard, 1 part heart of corrupt politician, 1 part madness of a communist dictator, 1 part lies of a White House Press Secretary, 1 part Satan's laughter. For good measure add one part sarcasm of UM poster. Very black indeed.
Comment icon #42 Posted by DecoNoir 10 years ago
on a very black background is quite useless since there aren't really any 'very' black backgrounds and i do think their interested because at night the soliders would practically be invisible as well as rockets, Ammo and Jet fighters. Actually that might be counter intuitive, as the night isn't anywhere close to pure black, so you'd have a bunch of man shaped black objects that would stand out even if the only light available was starlight. Also, black object absorb more heat, and this would be a problem on the modern battlefield with it range of IR and UV scopes. Generally the best camouflage... [More]
Comment icon #43 Posted by Calle 10 years ago
Actually that might be counter intuitive, as the night isn't anywhere close to pure black, so you'd have a bunch of man shaped black objects that would stand out even if the only light available was starlight. Also, black object absorb more heat, and this would be a problem on the modern battlefield with it range of IR and UV scopes. Generally the best camouflage has been found to not so much as blend in with a background, but to break up the outline of an object into something unrecognizable. yeah, kinda figured after i made my post.


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