You may have heard about Vantablack before. It’s the material that’s made up of “forests” of carbon nanotubes, which absorb and trap light to the point where it looks like reality itself has a gaping area of dead pixels. But even though it’s already wowed us previously by absorbing laser light to the point that it disappeared, Vantablack is apparently still evolving at quite a clip, and new versions are already being tested. One of these versions is called VBx1, and as you can tell by the above image, it can turn 3D objects into 2D ACME portable holes.
Science Alert picked up on these images of VBx1—more of which are in the image gallery below—and it’s clear that anything sprayed with this material or Vantablack becomes surreal, losing its ability to reflect light and therefore register as a thing in our minds. Image: Surrey NanoSystems
Vantablack, which is made exclusively by the UK-based tech company Surrey NanoSystems, is actually a material that’s “grown,” using catalyst particles and a gas. Each square-centimeter of Vantablack’s surface area contains a billion carbon nanotubes that are “aligned and equally spaced.” Each individual nanotube has “a diameter of around 20 nanometres (that’s about 3,500 times smaller than the diameter of the average human hair), and [is] typically from around 14 microns to 50 microns long.” When photons of light travel into the dense forest of carbon nanotubes, they become trapped (bouncing around between tubes), and they dissipate into heat before being reflected back as light.
— Surrey NanoSystems (@SurreyNanoSys) October 28, 2016
Although Surrey NanoSystems specifically notes that “VBx1 is not Vantablack, but… has similar properties,” it’s unclear to what extent the materials are different. According to one tweet by the company, VBx1 is a “carbon nanotube free coating,” which makes it seem like the company ditched its core design element. That said, it’s unclear if that’s the case and, if so, why they did. Regardless, the applications are the same, and pertain in large part to endeavors such as calibrating telescopes and sensors.
Carbon nanotubes or no carbon nanotubes, Vantablack or VBx1, Surrey NanoSystems’ results are absolutely bonkers. This is the kind of black Darth Vader would want for his coffin. This is the kind of black Batman would use for his bed sheets. This is the kind of black that happens when margaritas are on the house and tomorrow’s a me day.
Plus, when you pour water on these materials, it looks like a new galaxy made of liquid crystals is being birthed.
What do you think about Vantablack and VBx1? Enter your thoughts on the darkness below!
Images: Surrey NanoSystems
Could you really get sucked through a black hole in space?
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