The lightless strip in the above video may look like the stuff that makes up an ACME portable hole, but it’s actually an application of Surrey NanoSystems new “Vantablack,” also known as the latest version of the blackest material on Earth.
Vantablack – “Vanta” being an acronym for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays – is a material that’s made of, you guessed it, a forest of vertically aligned nanotube arrays. The material, according to Surrey, is actually “‘grown’ in a specially designed Chemical Vapour Deposition chamber under an array of powerful lamps that raise the surface temperature to 430 [degrees celsius] or higher to allow [a] nanotube forest to grow.” And the reason Vantablack “sucks in” so much light, about 99.965% of the visible radiation spectrum, is because these forests of nanotubes trap photons, and cause them to bounce around for long enough that they eventually convert into heat.
The material was originally created “to enhance the performance of sensitive electro-optical imaging systems in a satellite application,” or, in other words, help imaging satellites avoid stray light so that they can focus on their targeted fields-of-view. Now however, Vantablack is being used in other scientific and commercial areas, including possible applications in solar power, as well as coating for a nifty can of Lynx (Axe in the U.S.) body spray, which you can check out in the video below.
Unfortunately, when it comes to artistic applications for Vantablack, they are almost as nonexistent as light emitted from a forest of nanotubes, as one artist, famed sculptor Anish Kapoor, is the only person licensed to use the material. Although to be fair, there is no word yet on whether or not Kapoor is being chased by some kind of wily Coyote.
What do you think about the blackest material on Earth? What applications would you use it for it? And how long before Batman becomes its official spokesman? Let us know in the comments section below!
HT: Popular Science
Images: Surrey Nanosystems