This Material Is So Dark, You Can't See It

February 24, 2016

Scientists have created the world's darkest material: Vantablack.

Created by a British company called Surrey NanoSystems, Vantablack absorbs all but 0.035 percent of visible light. It is grown on sheets of aluminum foil and consists of a bunch of microscopic carbon nanotubes so tightly packed together that light particles can't escape.

vantablack
Surrey Nanosystems

"Take one of the hairs on your head," Ben Jensen, the chief technical officer of Surrey NanoSystems, explained to The Guardian. "Split that hair 10,000 times and one of the strands that you take away is the size of the tubes that we grow."

This material is so dark, it removes all texture from the surface to which it is applied. Human eyes don't really know what to make of it.

Vantablack is also being used by artist Sir Anish Kapoor who described the material as "blacker than anything you can imagine. So black you almost can't see it… Imagine a space that's so dark that as you walk in you lose all sense of where you are, what you are, and especially all sense of time."

vantablack
Vantablack on display at the Science Museum

So, why create something so dark?

Vantablack will be used to help calibrate space cameras and telescopes. Militaries are also showing interest in the stealth material.

"We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defense and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders," said Jensen.

As it turns out, Vantablack is the new black. Check out the video below:

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