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Meet Vantablack: The World's Darkest Material

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Look at that. It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.

I'm sorry for that, but there are some jokes that demand to be made. That was one of them.


In all seriousness, this is Vantablack, a material made by the British company Surrey NanoSystems that sets a world record by absorbing all but 0.035% of visual light. It's made of carbon nanohair that is 1,000 times thinner than the average human hair. The tubes are small enough to prevent light from entering them and packed so tightly that the light which makes it between the tubes bounces between them until it's absorbed.

It's got applications in astronomical cameras, telescopes, and infrared scanning systems, since it has "virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout" which can contaminate sensitive imagers. And, ominously, it has "military uses that the material's maker is not allowed to discuss."


The picture actually reveals just how black it is: the aluminum foil that the Vantablack is "grown" on is clearly crumpled. But the thin Vantablack layer doesn't echo those shapes, instead just creating a void. Said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer:

You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange.

Not that any of us normal people could get some of this stuff to make the world's most accurate black hole costume: It's so expensive that Jensen can't even give the price.

[The Independent]