“The Light Eater” – The darkest material ever created by mankind!

Scientists have created a new super-black material which is made out of carbon nanotubes which is literally so dark it’s like looking into a black hole!

The material called Vantablack absorbs all light with only 0.035% of light being reflected back out, this gives people who look at it a very eerie feeling as it looks like your staring into an abyss of nothing.

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Vantablack’s first customers are in the defense and space sectors, as the material can be used here to create many different things such as weapons to sensitive telescopes that can see even further than the ones we have today!

Surry NanoSystems (the company that have created this material) aren’t too talkative about how the material is made but what we do know is the word “Vanta” stands for “Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotube Arrays”.

“We also know that the company          (Surry NanoSytems) develops low temperature atomic deposition process.”

This means that there is a very good chance that we are probably looking at the ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition) or a CVD (Chemical Vapour Deposition) of carbon nanotubes on an aluminium substrate.

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Image of the material at the nano-level

But there is little technical information about Vantablack available to find at this current time with the website below giving a brief definition of what the substance is:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24664077

We know from previous studies done from VANTA if you pack the carbon nano tubes close enough together they can allow photons to enter but not leave the material. The nanotubes share similar qualities to the material graphite as both are incredibly absorbent to more forms of radiation, so as the light hits the material it bounces around inside of it and is absorbed very quickly as its energy dissipates.

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It’s for this reason that graphite is being looked into for a new material for ultra-sensitive imaging sensors.

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Image of the material at the nano-level

In the case of Vantablack absorbing 99.965% of incident all radiation it can be used in many types of sensitive sensors. However Surrey NanoSystems doesn’t say which frequencies of radiation are absorbed but from what we can already tell from previous studies is that carbon nanotubes can absorb many different things across the spectra from ultraviolet, to visible light, to infrared, to microwaves.

The military applications of their material can be clearly seen – stealth jets to all types of weapons. But where Vantablack “shines” is absorbing stray radiation, this significantly reduces the amount of noise and distortion on a telescope which will increase the range and resolution of the telescope.

The CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Ben Jensen attempted to describe the material saying:

 “You expect to see the creases and all you can see … it’s like black, like a hole, like there’s nothing there. It just looks so strange”

Stephen Westland, a British professor who wasn’t involved with the work, said: “These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine.”

Surry NanoSystems has stated that it has orders from clients for Vantablack and that it’s having to scale up the production to satisfy its client’s needs. The clients being in the defence and space sectors as we know NASA last year created a material called the “Super-black” but there is no word on if NASA was able to mass produce it.

In current telescopes no super black or Vantablack is being used, instead the insides of the telescopes are painted with a “very black paint” (Aeroglaze Z306 in case you were wondering). (Read: Stephen Hawking’s new research: ‘There are no black holes’.)

However we are it can only be a matter of time until we see these new materials being used in the space and the defence sectors. But this material still unnerves everyone who looks into it as the famous quote says:

When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you…”

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Have a great day guys!!

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