Vantablack is one of the darkest substances on Earth
The British company Surrey NanoSystems have their names written in the history books for making a material that is the closest thing to a black hole that we’ll ever ‘see’ so far. The super-black coating is the darkest substance man has ever synthesized. It’s called Vantablack, and it’s one of the darkest substances on Earth.
Vantablack currently holds the medal for the darkest synthetic material on earth. Its made from carbon nanotubes, which are tiny carbon cylinders with walls as thin as an atom. Surrey NanoSystems describe this arrangement as a forest populated by millions of soaring trees. Each tube is around 20 nanometers wide and 14-20 nanometers tall, making it 3,500 times smaller than a human hair. The tubes are so compact that a square of 1 cm x 1 cm bounds at least 1 billion of them.
These structures absorb any light that touches the surface by trapping the photons until they are almost completely absorbed. The light is unable to escape because the tubes are quite tall with respect to their diameter and the space between them. For instance, if the trees populating a forest were 2-3 km long, light penetrating the forest from above would find it almost impossible to reach the surface below. and that’s what makes this material so black. So dark it makes 3d objects look like an empty abyss of nothingness. Vantablack is so dark that it allows almost no incident light to reflect and escape. The National Physical Laboratory in Teddington found that it retains 99.965% of the light that falls on its ensnaring surface, it reflects just 0.035% of the incident light. That is phenomenal!
. Nanotubing has been touted as a wonder material since its discovery, because of its high thermal and electrical conductivity combined with great mechanical strength. But not a lot has bee discovered except for what we know now to be the blackest material. We’re still waiting patiently for carbon nanotubes to change the world with its promising potential.
Its unique physical property makes this material extremely useful. The light that hits a coating of Vantablack is converted to heat. Given that it absorbs almost 99.99% of light, the conversion of energy is massive. Ths It is for this reason that led Vantablack to be originally developed for satellites to soak up the Sun’s shower of light. The heat can then be used to, say, power electronics or heat water on a spacecraft. and for many other reasons too
Its high absorption also ensures the reduction of unwanted stray light around high-performance infrared cameras, sensors and various scientific instruments.