This Color Is So Dark, It Can't Even Be Seen Properly

July 14, 2014: Stare deep enough into Vantablack and you’ll be questioning whether it even exists.


A British company named Surrey NanoSystems claims to have created a new black material that has an intensity so deep, it can't be properly seen by a human eye.

Named Vantablack, the material is made of carbon nanotubes that absorb 99.96 percent percent of visual light that strike it, making its covered area almost indiscernible for us.

It means that anything this new super black material is wrapped around would turn it into a visual black hole, making it impossible for anyone to clearly see.

In science-speak, a black hole is a region of spacetime from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. Similarly, Vantablack's material is so dark that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light.

To make this happen, scientists used nanotubes that are 10,000 thinner than human hair and so tightly packed together that light particles can't pass through them.

"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 the company's CTO Ben Jensen in an interview with The Independent.

Regarding how it could be of use to us, he added: "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."

Leeds University professor of color science and technology Stephen Westland added: "Many people think black is the absence of light. I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light.These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine." 

So, the next time you see someone at a party who is wearing a black dress but you can't keep your focus on it, then don't file it automatically under the "I am too drunk" category. It may be just that her dress is Vantablack.

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