Physicists in the UK have developed an almost alien-like material that absorbs so much light that it sets a new world recording for distorting all “but 0.035 per cent of visual light.”
Made out of carbon nanotubes that are each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, ‘Vantablack‘ absorbs as much as 99.965% of all radiation, making it the blackest substance known. When looking at this unusual material, the human eye can’t process what it’s seeing other than a seemingly depthless abyss, where shapes and edges are completely lost.
What most people don’t realize is that our eyes actually see the world in 2D. The perception of our surroundings in 3D is the result of brain processes that collect and process information collected by the eyes. Vantablack essentially confuses this process by absorbing so much light that you are unable to see the edges and surface of an object coated with the substance. For example, in the featured image above, Vantablack absorbs so much light that you can’t see the ridges and valleys of the foil.
Recently described in the journal Optics Express, Vantablack will be useful in space where calibrating space telescopes require minimal interference from light. These densely packed nano tubes will also help minimize the contamination of sensitive imaging systems. But creating an illusion of depthless black is not all Vantablack is known for. Able to conduct heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and a tensile strength 10 times that of steel, Vantablack is a fascinating material for many reasons. And of course, the US military is looking into using the material for, no doubt, a variety of stealth application purposes. Yay, invisible robots to slaughter humans.