Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
Vantablack, aka Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array BLACK, is the blackest material around, absorbing 99.96 percent of incident visible light. Now, in our endless march toward absolutes of all kinds, there is a new, improved Vantablack.
It's so black that its blackness cannot be measured by a spectrometer. It's so black it makes the inside of your pocket look like sunshine. It's black.
(Surrey Nanosystems Vantablack)
Vantablack is made by chemically growing a network of carbon nanotubes (each of them is just 20 nanometers in diameter and approximately 14 microns to 50 microns in length) in a high-temperature chamber, creating a forest of sorts on a base such as aluminum—the nanotubes are so small and dense that the company reports that over a billion of them exist on a 0.1 in square patch. The material is then applied as a coating to another object—light hitting the coating is absorbed because it is bounced around between the nanotubes instead of being reflected back.
Golden Age science fiction fans recall black coating from Doc Smith's 1942 novel Gray Lensman :
“Well, we have a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive, and I don’t need ports or windows. At that, though, one percent reflection would be enough to give me away at a critical time. How’d it be to put a couple of the boys on that job? Have them put a decimal point after the ninety nine and see how many nines they can tack on behind it?”
In the modern era, fans of Gene Wolf's Shadow of the Torturer recall fuligin, and the absolute black from Douglas Adams's novel Restaurant at the Edge of the Universe. Both were published in 1980.
I enjoy collecting "blackest black" stories; take a look for yourself:
- Femtosecond Laser Pulse Turns Metals Pitch Black (2006)
- Carbon Nanotube Blackness Blacker Than Black (2008)
- New Black From NASA Uses Nanotubes (2010)
- Blacker-Than-Black Corrugated Metamaterials (2011)
- NASA's Super-Black Now Even Blacker (2011)
- Army Wants Black Blacker Than Black (2012)
- Vantablack Is Blacker Than Your Black (2014)
- Blackest Black? New Disordered Nanostructured Material (2015)
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