This is quite what staring into a black hole would feel like as the material above is so dark the human eye struggles to discern what it is that it is seeing. However, that bizarre experience is just a bonus about the recently created ‘new black’ of the science world – the material called Vanta black, or super black, is a major breakthrough in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation.
Vanta black was created by the UK company Surrey NanoSystems using carbon nanotubes, which are 10,000 thinner than human hair and so miniscule that light cannot get in but can pass into the gaps in between.
The material is revolutionary in its ability to be applied to light-weight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium whilst absorbing 99.96% of incident radiation, believed to be the highest-ever recorded.
“For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems. Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation”, said Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer of Surrey NanoSystems. (company’s news article here»)