The darkest material ever made


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Scientists have developed a material so dark it is difficult to discern the shape of any object it coats.

The material absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of light, a new world record, and is so dark the human eye struggles to discern its shape and dimension, giving the appearance of a black hole. Named Vantablack, or super black, it also conducts heat seven and half times more effectively than copper, and is ten times stronger than steel. It is created by Surrey NanoSystems using carbon nanotubes, which are 10,000 thinner than human hair and so miniscule that light cannot get in but can pass into the gaps in between.

The pictures at the website are especially amazing. They coated half of a sheet of aluminum foil with the material and then crinkled the foil. You can see the crinkles in the uncoated material, but the coated material just looks black.

This will be very useful for astronomical instruments, as well as many other technical applications. For example, if you coat the body of your telescope with this material it will help eliminate stray light, which means that you will increase the efficiency of your observations.

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5 comments

  • DK Williams

    Finally. I can complete my cloak of invisibility!

  • joe

    I wonder what kind of a radar signature this would leave if painted on aircraft, or if this would have any applications for stealth, sounds like an awesome new material.

  • Stephen Westland, professor of colour science and technology at Leeds University, told the paper: ‘These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.’

    “There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.”

    Nigel Tufnel, ‘This is Spinal Tap’

  • Edward

    I think that this black might go all the way to 11. ;-)

  • Lerland

    It would definitely make it easier for military and people on the ground who don’t want to be seen because it absorbs so much light.

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