Photo credit: “Vantablack 01” by Surrey NanoSystems. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
It’s blacker than DARK was supposed to be. Blacker than my last boyfriend’s heart. Blacker than Hitler’s soul.
Vantablack is believed to be the world’s darkest material. Absorbing 99.96% of light, the human eye can’t actually see it. Instead, the eye perceives the area around it. Which means Just for Laughs: Gags is certain to use it in a fake manhole skit in the near future.
Dubbed “super black”, the material has no visible texture or hint of greyness. Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer at developer Surrey NanoSystems, claims Vantablack could have useful implications in the field of optical instrumentation. Jensen went on to explain the nanofiber coating in terms only someone with a PhD in physics or an engineering degree could possibly understand. In more accessible terms: it could enable telescopes to take clearer pictures of stars by omitting extraneous light.
“Vanta” stands for “Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotube Arrays”. After two years of research and development, scientists are now able to grow these nanotubes on a swatch of aluminum foil. That is to say, the brightest minds in nanotechnology couldn’t come up with a cooler medium than the stuff you use to wrap up leftovers.
As long as we’re talking about relatable materials, I have a few other ideas as to how this voodoo science experiment could be used by the average Jane. First off, how cool would Vantablack nail polish be? I mean, looking at your hands would be like peering into 10 black holes! Moving beyond the make-up arena, I’m sure cat burglars and ninjas alike would love to get their hands on this stuff. And what kid couldn’t rock out a Halloween costume that makes him more-or-less invisible?
Despite all its other potential uses, Surrey NanoSystems chose to unveil this new technology at a trade show for international aerospace and defense industries. So Vantablack’s foremost use will be as a tool of war.