Vantablack is like a liquid black hole, absorbing 99.96% visible light

Vantablack

Have you ever seen a substance so black, that the human eye
can’t understand what it’s seeing, making crumbled objects painted with it
appear flat? I’m not talking about black holes, which aren’t visible to the
naked eye, but a material called Vantablack—a synthetic compound developed by
British company Surrey NanoSystems to be the blackest material ever. Vantablack
absorbs 99.96% of the light that strikes its surface.

“[After coating aluminum foil in Vantablack] 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,” Ben Jensen, chief
technical officer of Surrey Nanosystems, told the Independent back in July 2014 when the
original Vantablack was released. Since then, its increase its light absorption
rate of 99.85% to the current 99.96%.

But what happens when you shine some laser on it? Ordinarily,
light reflected from the laser produces a circle of light at the point of
contact between the beam and the object.
But when engineers from Surrey NanoSystems traced a laser on Vantablack, the
light simply disappeared as if swallowed by a black hole. Almost nothing
detectable was reflected back to our eyes.

Don’t believe me? Check out the video below to see for
yourself.

Scientists created Vantablack by tightly packing carbon nanotubes—each 10,000 times thinner than a
human hair—on a sheet of aluminum so close together that the light that goes in
gets trapped in the tiny spaces between the tubes. As with most super-black
materials, Vantablack’s primary function is to calibrate cameras used to
photograph celestial objects in space. Research groups, including NASA, have
long worked to make dark blacks that could help calibrate super-sensitive
infrared cameras.

Vantablack also absorbs 99.85%
of infrared radiation.

Unlike other substances in the super-dark category,
Vantablack’s carbon nanotubes don’t require as high of temperatures to construct,
meaning that engineer may deposit it on a wider range of substances. The
material conducts heat seven-and-a-half times more effectively than copper,
with ten times the tensile strength of steel.