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Vantablack: As dark as a black hole

The only object that truly lives up to this claim is a black hole, which basically swallows up any form of light. But we haven’t developed a black hole yet – you wouldn’t be reading this article if we had. However, the researchers at Surrey NanoSystems have succeeded in creating a high-tech material that absorbs 99.60% of light. The blackest black in the world. Vantablack.

V.A.N.T.A. – Vertically Alligned Nanotube Array BLACK

The “vertically aligned nanotube array” is the special ingredient used to produce this dark magic.

Admittedly, it’s actually science, but when you take a closer look at Vantablack’s properties, the line in fact becomes very blurred. The coating absorbs incident light by buffeting the rays of light between the carbon nanotubes, but without reflecting them. Our ability to see is based on rays of light being reflected by our surroundings. Our brain interprets the information and supplements it if necessary. This is why you can still recognize outlines and shapes when you try to sneak quietly into bed at night. But objects coated with Vantablack lose this property.

Vantablack is this black

Source: Surray NanoSystems

How to create the ultimate black

“Take a hair from your head,” says Ben Jensen, one of the masterminds behind Vantablack, “and split it 10,000 times. One of those fibres will be the size of the tubes we create.” To develop the Vantablack coating, an aluminium support is vaporised with an acetylene substrate. A catalyst is applied one layer at a time. The applied accelerator filters infrared radiation and, among other things, ensures that the otherwise necessary temperature of 750°C can be lowered to 450°C. The latter is a key prerequisite for the first nanotube to be produced without causing the aluminum to melt. This impressive video shows just how resistant the material grows once the process is completed.

Vantablack in space

This “super-black” isn’t a paint colour, and is generally more likely to be put to use in science and military projects than in art. Even so, sculptor Anish Kapoor has purchased the exclusive rights for exactly this purpose. The price of this transaction remains unknown. While the “Vanta S-VIS” variant is slightly less absorbent, it can be sprayed on. It is currently being used in this form in research projects.

Surray NanoSystems , the creator of Vantablack,is collaborating with Berlin Space Technologies, a Berlin-based company, whose products include components for small satellites used for orbital observation and solar system surveillance. The Kent Ridge 1 microsatellite was developed in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and equipped with two hyperspectral cameras. These cameras not only capture visible light, but also electromagnetic fields. This could enable access to new oil sources and data supply to numerous natural sciences. Unfavourable lighting conditions may distort this data, however. The microsatellite has been coated in Vanta S-VIS for this very reason. The incident light is literally swallowed up by the coating and, as a result, has minimal effect on the sensitive measurement equipment.

Vanta 2.0

In a new trial, the team of British scientists recently managed to create the next generation of Vantablack. It absorbs even more light – but it has not yet been possible to record just how much by using the current laboratory equipment. Has Surrey NanoSystems managed to create a material that truly absorbs all light? If you’re intrigued by Vantablack, find out more about transparent wood in our article Strong as wood. Clear as glass. .

Quelle: Youtube, Surrey NanoSystems

Complete darkness made by hand: fascinating or worrying? We are eager to hear your thoughts.


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