The Blackest Black Material (Vantablack, Etc.)

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#1
Scientists develop a material so dark that you can't see it...but you'll have to wait a long time for the ultimate cocktail dress.

Puritans, Goths, avant-garde artists, hell-raising poets and fashion icon Coco Chanel all saw something special in it. Now black, that most enigmatic of colours, has become even darker and more mysterious.
A British company has produced a "strange, alien" material so black that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light, setting a new world record. To stare at the "super black" coating made of carbon nanotubes – each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – is an odd experience. It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss.

If it was used to make one of Chanel's little black dresses, the wearer's head and limbs might appear to float incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole.

Actual applications are more serious, enabling astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems to function more effectively. Then there are the military uses that the material's maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.

The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based company. While the sheets may be crumpled into miniature hills and valleys, this landscape disappears on areas covered by it.

"You expect to see the hills and all you can see … it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer.


full article in The Independent

Only One Artist Can Use the Blackest Material in the World - Popular Science

It goes without saying that this breakthrough will have major implications for the next generation of priests' socks.
father-jack.jpg
 

Ermintruder

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#2
I'm aware of a 75yr old precident to this, that may be almost entirely-forgotten about (apart from by me).

During WW2, the Royal Air Force experimented with a special black paint finish for the undersides of bombers and night-fighters, referred to as 'Absorptive Black'.

This used a combination of layers of paint, carbon (soot) and a deposit of treated coal granules. This was intended to cancel-out all reflections from enemy searchlights, and was reported as being particularly effective in twilight.

I've got technical details about it somewhere, in original manuals of the time. It may be a forgotten technology (probably rendered obsolete, though, by this amazing Vantablack)

EDIT- if I remember, it was developed as an extension of the recognition that steam locomotives when dirty could be dangerously-difficult to see in poor light
 

EnolaGaia

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#3
MIT researchers have now published a report on the development of another carbon nano-tube (CNT) based composite material that's even blacker than Vantablack.
Engineers develop 'blackest black' material to date

Made from carbon nanotubes, the new coating is 10 times darker than other very black materials ...

MIT engineers report today that they have cooked up a material that is 10 times blacker than anything that has previously been reported. The material is made from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, or CNTs -- microscopic filaments of carbon, like a fuzzy forest of tiny trees, that the team grew on a surface of chlorine-etched aluminum foil. ...

The researchers have published their findings today in the journal ACS-Applied Materials and Interfaces. They are also showcasing the cloak-like material as part of a new exhibit today at the New York Stock Exchange, titled "The Redemption of Vanity."

The artwork, a collaboration between Brian Wardle, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, and his group, and MIT artist-in-residence Diemut Strebe, features a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond, estimated to be worth $2 million, which the team coated with the new, ultrablack CNT material. The effect is arresting: The gem, normally brilliantly faceted, appears as a flat, black void.

Wardle says the CNT material, aside from making an artistic statement, may also be of practical use, for instance in optical blinders that reduce unwanted glare, to help space telescopes spot orbiting exoplanets.

"There are optical and space science applications for very black materials, and of course, artists have been interested in black, going back well before the Renaissance," Wardle says. "Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that's ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually we'll understand all the underlying mechanisms, and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black."

Wardle's co-author on the paper is former MIT postdoc Kehang Cui ...

Wardle and Cui didn't intend to engineer an ultrablack material. Instead, they were experimenting with ways to grow carbon nanotubes on electrically conducting materials such as aluminum, to boost their electrical and thermal properties.

But in attempting to grow CNTs on aluminum, Cui ran up against a barrier, literally: an ever-present layer of oxide that coats aluminum when it is exposed to air. This oxide layer acts as an insulator, blocking rather than conducting electricity and heat. As he cast about for ways to remove aluminum's oxide layer, Cui found a solution in salt, or sodium chloride. ...

Cui found that if he soaked aluminum foil in saltwater, he could remove the oxide layer. He then transferred the foil to an oxygen-free environment to prevent reoxidation, and finally, placed the etched aluminum in an oven, where the group carried out techniques to grow carbon nanotubes via a process called chemical vapor deposition. ...

What surprised them was the material's color.

"I remember noticing how black it was before growing carbon nanotubes on it, and then after growth, it looked even darker," Cui recalls. "So I thought I should measure the optical reflectance of the sample.

"Our group does not usually focus on optical properties of materials, but this work was going on at the same time as our art-science collaborations with Diemut, so art influenced science in this case," says Wardle.

Wardle and Cui, who have applied for a patent on the technology, are making the new CNT process freely available to any artist to use for a noncommercial art project.

"Built to take abuse"

Cui measured the amount of light reflected by the material, not just from directly overhead, but also from every other possible angle. The results showed that the material absorbed greater than 99.995 percent of incoming light, from every angle. In essence, if the material contained bumps or ridges, or features of any kind, no matter what angle it was viewed from, these features would be invisible, obscured in a void of black. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190913080742.htm
 

Shady

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#5
Well that's buggered up a nice stone
So this can be used on aircraft to make it invisible, at night?

It sounds like cool stuff
 

James_H

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#8
You can get a car in vantablack, if you're loaded.


I don't think this thread has touched on the art world feud between Anish Kapoor and less famous artist Stuart Semple, who now puts his energies into making 'blacker than blacks' that are free to use by artists (Kapoor has exclusive rights to using Vantablack in artwork)

Read all about it here: https://www.format.com/magazine/features/art/anish-kapoor-stuart-semple-vantablack-blackest-black

I am actually tempted to buy a tube of Semple's black and try some stuff out myself. It's not as black as vantablack but it's still very, very black.
 

Mythopoeika

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#9
Painting a car with that is just asking for trouble. I'm thinking of late night accidents, etc.
The only reason you'd have that is if you're doing something illegal (burglary) or covert (spying).

You'd have to keep it thoroughly clean for best effect. A layer of dust would negate the effect.
 

Swifty

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#10
Painting a car with that is just asking for trouble. I'm thinking of late night accidents, etc.
The only reason you'd have that is if you're doing something illegal (burglary) or covert (spying).

You'd have to keep it thoroughly clean for best effect. A layer of dust would negate the effect.
Perfect for a Batmobile though. I wonder how you'd wash it without ruining the effect?
 

Tribble

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#13
You can get a car in vantablack, if you're loaded.


I don't think this thread has touched on the art world feud between Anish Kapoor and less famous artist Stuart Semple, who now puts his energies into making 'blacker than blacks' that are free to use by artists (Kapoor has exclusive rights to using Vantablack in artwork)

Read all about it here: https://www.format.com/magazine/features/art/anish-kapoor-stuart-semple-vantablack-blackest-black

I am actually tempted to buy a tube of Semple's black and try some stuff out myself. It's not as black as vantablack but it's still very, very black.
Unless you're the Batman that would potentially be bloody dangerous at night. "I didn't see the car until it was too late"

How about a Vantablack bodysuit? Good for stagehands and people wanting to start ghost stories. "All I saw were two red glowing eyes hovering there... and blackness. Absolute blackness. Then it ran off and disappeared"
 

Xanatic*

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#19
Ahh but you want those things black as night. This might be blacker.
I believe dark blue is supposed to work better.
 

Xanatic*

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#20
Incidentally I just learned that the Ayam Cemani chickens have not just black feathers and beak, but black organs, bones and meat.
 

James_H

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#24
Incidentally I just learned that the Ayam Cemani chickens have not just black feathers and beak, but black organs, bones and meat.
Silkie chickens (not black on the outside, but black of meat) are commonly sold in supermarkets here for making broth. I haven't tried yet.
 
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