World's Darkest Material Looks Like a Black Hole
The material is so black that even when crumpled, it still looks completely flat.
Nigel Tufnel, from This is Spinal Tap, said it best: "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."
A new material has been developed that's so devoid of reflection, looking at it is like looking into a black hole. Vantablack, from U.K.-based Surrey Nanosystems, absorbs all but 0.035 percent of the incident light that bounces off it. You can't see it; you can only see the objects around it.
In fact, the material is so black that even when crumpled, it still looks completely flat.
"You expect to see the hills [of the bends and crumples] and all you can see ... it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange," the company's CTO, Ben Jensen, told the Independent.
Back in 2008, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute achieved a similar goal and for a while, their material, which absorbed all but 0.045 percent of light, was the darkest. But now Surrey Nanosystems has surpassed that.
The "Vanta" in Vantablack stands for "vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays." The array is made from carbon nanotubes grown on aluminum foil in a laboratory. When grown closely packed together, carbon nanotubes allow light to enter, but let very little of that light - ultraviolet, visible, infrared and microwaves - to escape.
Such super-black material reduces stray light and has a wide range of possible applications, including as a coating for the exterior of stealth craft and weaponry or as a coating for the interior of sensitive telescopes designed to detect some of the faintest faraway objects. It could also be used to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of solar panels and infrared sensors.
Stephen Westland, professor of color science and technology at Leeds University, told the Independent, "These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine."
Credit: Surrey Nanosystems
Sept. 27, 2011 --
In the popular "Deus Ex" video game series, nanotechnology can turn an average government agent into a bionic superman. In fact, nanotech augmentations in the human body aren't just fun and games. Real-life applications will most likely become reality a lot sooner than you think. In 2007, the world's first online inventory of nanotech products, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, found that nearly 500 products, including food, clothing and cosmetics, employed nanotechnology. In this slide show, explore how nanotech can make you stronger, tap into your brain and more.
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If you're too busy to make it to the gym, nanotechnology could be a way to get fit without having to spend hours toiling away on machines. In fact, technology can take you a lot further than any free-weight or cardio regimen. In 2006, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas reported in the journal Science that they had created alcohol- and hydrogen-fueled artificial muscles 100 times stronger and capable of 100 times more work than natural muscles. Functioning as both muscles and fuel cells, the technology has a range of applications from artificial limbs to autonomous robots.
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If nanotechnology can make you stronger, could it also make you smarter? Scientists aren't quite there yet, but nanotechnology applied to brain implants could treat a range of conditions from deafness to blindness to Parkinson's disease and more, according to biomedical engineers from the University of Michigan. Nanotechnology could also be used to tap into the mind, and read and write information directly into the brain. In an unusual twist, the research was undertaken by telecommunications engineers at Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.
Contact lenses with visual displays may seem like the kind of technology you only see in a movie. But researchers at the University of Washington have started laying the groundwork by building a contact lens with internal circuitry. Using wires made of metal only a few nanometers thick, the technology is placed in a contact lens rather than an implant, making use of the bionic eye much easier. In this photo, the contact lens has been affixed to a rabbit. The researchers believe they would quickly be able to introduce a visual display, but it wouldn't be more than a few pixels in the near future.
Tired of having to find an electrical outlet or a USB cable every time you need to charge your cell phone? With nanotechnology, you can become a walking battery. Using nanowires to recover wasted heat energy from the body, which is then converted into electrical power, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed an entirely means of charging personal electronics. The same technology could be used to convert heat from other sources into electrical energy. As reported in the journal Nature, approximately 15 trillion watts of heat energy produced by engine and steam- and gas-powered turbines is lost to the environment.
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