Scientists Create 'Super Black' That Our Eye Can't See

Nanotubes absorb 99.96% of light

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 14, 2014 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Imagine an object so black that you could stare right at it and see nothing at all. That object can now exist, thanks to a British nanotechnology company. Surrey Nanosystems has created a new "super black" coating that absorbs 99.96% of light, which is to say, all light the human eye can detect, the company announced last week. The Engineer explains that it can be "applied to flat and three-dimensional structures in precise patterns with sub-micron resolution," and the Independent gives an example: Scientists applied the material, which the company calls "Vantablack," to sheets of aluminum foil. While the foil is visibly crinkled around it, within the area covered by the coating, those crinkles and contours disappear.

If you made a dress out of it "you would lose all features of the dress," Chief Technology Officer Ben Jensen says. "It would just be something black passing through." It would also be a "very expensive" dress, Jensen adds, without disclosing the material's cost. Vantablack is made out of carbon nanotubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. It's 10 times stronger than steel, and more than seven times more conductive than copper. Unlike past efforts at such a material, it can be manufactured at low temperatures, allowing it to be directly applied to sensitive electronics without melting them. All of which makes it not just a curiosity, but a material rife with practical uses for things like imaging systems. "For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars," Jensen explains. The firm has started delivering batches to defense and space industry clients. (Click to read about an invention you can smell.)

This is not the new super-black material. You can tell, because you can see it.
This is not the new super-black material. You can tell, because you can see it.   (Shutterstock)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow

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. - Stephen Westland, color scientist

« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
1%
60%
1%
30%
5%
2%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   MSN Living   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   Biography   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!