Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Vantablack Is the New Black

A new material absorbs 99.96 percent of light.

By Amy KraftNovember 26, 2014 6:00 AM
vantablack.jpg
Via its system of carbon nanotubes, Vantablack absorbs 99.96 percent of light. | Surrey Nanosystems

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

vantablack_micro.jpg
Vantablack consists of a dense forest of carbon nanotubes suspended in plasma that's coated on materials like aluminum (magnified above) for easy application. | Surrey Nanosystems

Imagine the darkness of a black hole right here on Earth. In July, British company Surrey Nanosystems publicly released a material so black that it absorbs 99.96 percent of light, making it the most absorbent thing on Earth.

This outrageously obsidian material, called Vantablack, owes its darkness to a set of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes — each about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair — that are suspended in plasma and coated directly onto materials like aluminum foil. The nanotubes are packed so tightly that incoming light particles bounce around between them until the nanotubes absorb them.

vantablack.jpg
Via its system of carbon nanotubes, Vantablack absorbs 99.96 percent of light. | Surrey Nanosystems

Vantablack also has other useful qualities: It withstands the stress from launching a rocket into space, long-term vibrations and extreme temperature fluctuations. Defense contractors are especially eager to get their hands on the material, no doubt due to its ruggedness and potential for stealth weaponry. More peacefully, astronomers hope it can improve telescope accuracy by reducing stray light within their instruments.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In