What to know

Vantablack: The Color Darker Than Black

Vantablack is so black physical features can not be seen
I'll stop wearing black when they invent a darker colour - Wednesday Addams

I’ll stop wearing black when they invent a darker colour – Wednesday Addams

Move over Wednesday Addams! Move over for Vantablack, the color darker than black.

The UK National Physical Laboratory has created a substance so black, physical features stop being visible. Anything coated with Vantablack will lose its physical features, like dents, curves and edges. The high-tech material is so dark it resembles a black hole, sucking in as much light as possible.

Vantablack is composed of a set of microscopic carbon nanotubes, vertically aligned in a specific way to trap visible light. It is known to absorb nearly 99.99% of all light in the visible spectrum.

Before explaining more about this man-made, applicable black hole substance, you should understand how colors work, and why you see them the way you do.

What we call light, is electromagnetic radiation within the range of wavelength that can be interpreted by the human eye as they bounce back, or reflect off of things. So basically, the color of things is the color they don’t absorb. Meaning, in technical terms, the color you see is the color objects reflect and the opposite of the color it holds.

Complete brightness or the color white, is actually all visible light reflecting off an object and bouncing back into your eyes, without any of it being absorbing. However, the “color” black is the absence of interpretable color. Meaning no light is bouncing back for your eyes to see. So technically black is not a color, and neither is Vantablack.

The reason Vantablack turns everything into a black hole, is its incredible ability to absorb 99.956% of all visible light, leaving nothing to bounce back to your eyes. The absence of light makes it hard for your eyes to spot physical details of the object.

The name is a acronyms for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays, inspired by the alignment of vertical single-atom carbon tubes. The tubes are structured in way that traps light instead of letting it bounce back. Light continues to bounce inside the Vantablack, enough to eventually being absorbed and fritter into heat.

The possible uses of the substance are limitless. It can be used to increase solar cell efficiency, and the US Army has found it useful in future thermal camouflage technology.


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