A British company has produced a “strange, alien" material
so black that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual
light, setting a new world record. To stare at the "super
black" coating made of carbon nanotubes
times thinner than a human hair? is an odd experience It
is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is
seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but
an apparent abyss.
If it was used to make one of Chanel's little black dresses,
the wearer's head and limbs might appear to ﬂoat
incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole.
Actual applications are more serious, enabling
astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning
systems to function more effectively Then there are the
military uses that the material's maker, Surrey
NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss
The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown
on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based
company. While the sheets may be crumpled into miniature
hills and valleys, this landscape disappears on areas
covered by it.
"You expect to see the hills and all you can see it's like
black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. ltjust looks so
strange," said Ben Jensen, the ﬁrm's chief technical officer.
Asked about the prospect of a little black dress, he said it
would be "very expensive" ,
the cost of the material is
one of the things he was unable to reveal.
"You would lose all features of the dress. It would just be
something black passing through," he said.
Vantablack, which was described in thejournal Optics