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Scientists Have Developed a Material So Dark That You Can't See It

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the none-more-black dept.

United Kingdom 238

gbjbaanb writes A British company is developing a new material that's so black it absorbs all but 0.035 percent of the visual light, making it the darkest material ever created. Of course, apart from making album covers, it conducts heat 7 times better than copper and is 10 times stronger than steel. "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.

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I was able to sneak into their laboratories (5, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 3 months ago | (#47444349)

And I took a photo [e-try.com] of the material.

I was able to sneak into their laboratories (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444497)

Very funny. Here are the real pictures: (maybe it's not to late to add this link to the article?)
http://sageofquay.blogspot.nl/

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (5, Informative)

tylerni7 (944579) | about 3 months ago | (#47444585)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci... [dailymail.co.uk] That's a link to the photos without the blogspam..

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444811)

That's a link to the photos without the blogspam..

Don't think of me as ungrateful, but I'd rather read correspondence from a thousand nigerian princes (with p3ni$) problems from now until the day I die than click on a link to the Mail.

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 3 months ago | (#47444871)

yeah yeah, just look at the pictures, no need to read the stories of Nigerian princes being allowed to remain in the UK after scamming little old ladies of their life savings, because it would violate their human right to a family life.

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (0)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47444955)

no need to read the stories

Indeed, there's a good reason the paper is known as the daily fail to people in the UK.

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (1)

Cley Faye (1123605) | about 3 months ago | (#47444863)

Meh. They just removed the texture file before rendering.

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47444587)

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444891)

Sponsor: Ok, you are talking a lot about your new thing but maybe can you actually to show us the wonder ?
Researcher: Here it's !
Sponsor: Can't see anything !
Researcher: ?!!????
Sponsor: Cutting the funding !

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47444515)

I suspect the material was carefully designed so that the scientists could show off how bright they are (in comparison).

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445109)

"Not only were their colors and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid."

Re:I was able to sneak into their laboratories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444609)

Bah. All I see is "Copyright 1998-2011 Qameleon Technology, Inc." (Hint: Turn off styles)

GERMANY WINS THE 2014 WORLD CUP! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444673)

They've done it! Theyv'e done it! Germany has won the 2014 World Cup 1-0! GERMANY HAS WON! THEY ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Re:GERMANY WINS THE 2014 WORLD CUP! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444739)

You are missing the point. This stuff explains Global Warming!
This new material is .00035 un-see-able.

Just like Global Warming.

You can't see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444363)

but you can still see the void it leaves behind

galactic hyper-hearse (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444369)

It's the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you've done it. Hey, what is this, some kind of galactic hyper-hearse?

Re:galactic hyper-hearse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444615)

:-)

My first thought too...

Re:galactic hyper-hearse (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444675)

That's what happens when you try to steal Hotblack Desiato's stunt ship...

Re:galactic hyper-hearse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444695)

i instantly thought of hotblack desiato also...

Re:galactic hyper-hearse (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 3 months ago | (#47445033)

It's the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you've done it. Hey, what is this, some kind of galactic hyper-hearse?

You kids with your fancy book references just make me laugh. When I think of HHGTTG, I think of the radio plays, with Peter Jones as the book, and the Haggunenon Admiral's flagship.

Ahh .. the good old days.

Now git off my lawn.

Re:galactic hyper-hearse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445177)

A clip showing the inspiration [youtube.com] for developing the idea.

Yea right (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 3 months ago | (#47444385)

Bet it can be seen just fine in the far infrared.

Re:Yea right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444449)

The summary does state '0.035 percent of the visual light'... it'll do a good job on IF/UV too I'm sure given it's based on trapping photons bouncing around within tunnels so they can't escape, though probably not as low a percentage.

Re:Yea right (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47444599)

it'll do a good job on IF/UV too I'm sure given it's based on trapping photons bouncing around within tunnels so they can't escape,

the effects are probably because the size of the nanotubes are on the order of the wavelength of visible light... I would not be surprised if it wasn't particularly impressive for IR/UV. SOURCE: MY BRAIN

Re:Yea right (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 3 months ago | (#47444607)

The summary does state '0.035 percent of the visual light'... it'll do a good job on IF/UV too I'm sure given it's based on trapping photons bouncing around within tunnels so they can't escape, though probably not as low a percentage.

While it might do a good job at absorbing it must still emit blackbody photons.

Re:Yea right (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47444681)

If they can grow it on Aluminum foil, perhaps they can grow it on an Aluminum block, with cooling passages.

Re:Yea right (2)

marxidad (337005) | about 3 months ago | (#47444613)

If it's absorbing all that light, it's close to being a perfect black body and so it's going to emit infrared radiation.

Fuligin (2)

daive (145428) | about 3 months ago | (#47444395)

As a color, this is called fuligin (from Gene Wolde's New Sun series).

It's like, how much more black could this be? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444397)

And the answer is none. None more black.

Re:It's like, how much more black could this be? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47444549)

It could be 350ppm more black.

Re:It's like, how much more black could this be? (1)

bigfinger76 (2923613) | about 3 months ago | (#47444845)

It's like a pastel black.

Prior Art (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47444399)

The helicopters hovering over my house.

Disaster Area (4, Funny)

Rah'Dick (976472) | about 3 months ago | (#47444413)

I hear a Mr. Hotblack Desiato wants to buy all of it. The material and the team that invented it... He also might buy the whole solar system while he's at it.

Re:Disaster Area (2, Funny)

Zocalo (252965) | about 3 months ago | (#47444543)

Since he's currently spending a year dead for tax reasons I doubt that would be the case, but in any event since it's only totally black and not totally frictionless as well I don't think it would be suitable for crashing into a star at the climax of the next Disaster Area concert anyway.

Fugilin cloth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444415)

It's what the executioners wear.

Larry Niven! (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 3 months ago | (#47444425)

So it's like staring into hyperspace?

Here's a better article with actual photos (5, Informative)

big_e_1977 (2012512) | about 3 months ago | (#47444433)

Daily Mail [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Here's a better article with actual photos (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444565)

better article

Daily Mail

This material appears to be so black that it made me black out and wake up in a crazy alternate universe where a Daily Mail article isn't considered to be absolutely terrible.

Re:Here's a better article with actual photos (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444829)

I doubt the Fail appreciates being linked to anything black, but hey clicks are clicks.

Re:Here's a better article with actual photos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444893)

Does anyone know if the material is ridged, or if the blackness of the material is what's causing what looks like severe pixelation at the edges of the material despite the rest of the pic looking normal quality?

Prior art - Wile E. Coyote's portable holes. (3, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47444451)

Can't remember if he got them from Acme or not...

Re:Prior art - Wile E. Coyote's portable holes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444689)

Yes he got everything from Acme, but later filed a lawsuit for gross negligence of said company... http://www.torinfo.com/justfor... [torinfo.com]

Re:Prior art - Wile E. Coyote's portable holes. (1)

dbc (135354) | about 3 months ago | (#47444703)

Not to mention _The And and the Aardvark_:
"I hate you, instant hole!" the Blue Aardvark

My ex-wife (1)

bluegutang (2814641) | about 3 months ago | (#47444457)

I think her soul is made out of this material.

Re:My ex-wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444743)

Why did you marry her, if it isn't too personal to say?

Bigger blackness (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 3 months ago | (#47444477)

I moderated /. (emitted my energy). But the world is not more enlightened, because I was counter-moderated (anti-doesn't-matter). We may need this device/material to more accurately graph our lack of enlightenment, given the energy (carbon) submitted. Already available, BTW, on /. beta.

Headline wrong, not invisible. (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 3 months ago | (#47444481)

If this stuff where painted around the entrance of a curved tunnel and sun light shone on to it, if you you could only see the painted material then you would most 100% definitively see sunlight shining off of it.

Bright daylight being 10,000 foot candles and 1 candle light being something that we can see, 0.035% = 2,857 to 1 ratio.

Re:Headline wrong, not invisible. (3, Informative)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 3 months ago | (#47444511)

Handy in places where reflections are bad though such as telescopes and high end camera internals perhaps.

Unfortunately only very rich ninjas will be able to afford this material. (Pirates will just steal or copy it of course)

Re: Headline wrong, not invisible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444601)

Its going to trickle down to you until it has been successfully used in the 2500 bilion dollar war on The North Bogeymen

Re:Headline wrong, not invisible. (3, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 3 months ago | (#47444671)

As long as the manufacturing can scale and it does offer the advantages we assume, I would expect in in £300 cameras with 5 years, maybe even cheaper. Look at Gorilla Glass, once they found a market and could scale, now everyone uses it for smartphones.

Re:Headline wrong, not invisible. (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 3 months ago | (#47444921)

I was thinking of heatsinks - conduct better than copper (no doubt cheaper once manufacturing gets sorted out) and your shiny copper heatpipes will be replaced with not-shiny black ones that you can't see.

The said telescopes would be suitable for this, particularly expensive ones they put in space.

Pics or GTFO (1)

Lexible (1038928) | about 3 months ago | (#47444485)

No pictures of the material under ambient lighting with other recognizable objects or this is vapor.

Re:Pics or GTFO (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47444711)

Happy now? [dailymail.co.uk]

Paging Hagunenon Admiral (1)

j-b0y (449975) | about 3 months ago | (#47444489)

Your Flagship is ready after its respray.

Re:Paging Hagunenon Admiral (1)

disposable60 (735022) | about 3 months ago | (#47444951)

But now he's quite incapable of enjoying it.

I see (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 3 months ago | (#47444499)

Polar Bear in a snow storm, then....

Sold! (2)

Jager Dave (1238106) | about 3 months ago | (#47444503)

I'm guessing we know now, what material Hotblack Desiato used to coat Disaster Area's ship....

I imagine it would also be appropriate for the Batmobile.

..and my next motorcycle.

My Ex will be happy about this (1)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#47444505)

Since she went all Goth, she claimed she was only wearing black till they invented something darker.

She'll wallow in this.

Re:My Ex will be happy about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444791)

Sounds like someone is already wallowing.

Wrath of the Black Vanta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444513)

This needs to be made into a ninja suit.

Just Like (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444563)

Just like talking to religious zealots and vegans.

So when can I buy a cape made of it? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 3 months ago | (#47444579)

As I recall, the protagonist in "The Shadow of The Torturer" wears a costume and cape made of a perfect black material so that all you see when he walks towards you is an irregular shifting black shape of perfect darkness.

With an axe, and eyes.

It was a good book. The rest of the series? Eh.

I can imagine that (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444589)

It is so happens that in computer graphics 3d object can be flat shaded, as a uniform color. In this case it is impossible to distinquish some characteristics and the object looks unnatural. So I believe I totally understand how the object should look. however we are used to unrealistic stuff in PC screen, however wrong looking objects in real life would be something really interesting.

Inside of cameras (1, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#47444597)

This is going to be useful for the insides of optical systems, lens hoods, and such. Other than that, probably not that significant.

Re:Inside of cameras (1)

deroby (568773) | about 3 months ago | (#47444679)

I didn't research so forgive my ignorance, but if they might be able to produce this cheaply and durably; having a couple of m2 of it on your roof might be great for capturing solar energy; especially given it's heat conducting properties. It would look weird though.

That said, didn't we have a similar article on /. quite a while ago where they showed off something similar (might have been it reflected (quite) a bit more) yet I haven't read/heard anything from it after that...

Re:Inside of cameras (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445007)

Not really. I think this would be a horrible thing to enter common usage. If you cover a roof in it, you won't know the shape of the roof. Looking down at it, is that a tower coming to a sharp point 3 feet away from me or is it a super large tarp on the ground? Are you tossing me a black bouncy ball or a ball covered in little sharp spikes? If a room was 'painted' with material, you won't have a clue. Is there a floor there or a massive drop who's walls are also covered in the stuff? Is there a pole or sharp spike directly in front of you or is that a flat wall 2 feet away? This stuff is as awesome as it is dangerous.

Re:Inside of cameras (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#47445151)

I didn't research so forgive my ignorance

It gets this property from its fine surface structure, which is a forest of tubes. Incoming light has to be reflected many times before it gets back out, so a black material is effectively made even less reflective. It's the optical-scale version of the pointed absorbers used in anechoic chambers. [wikipedia.org]

It probably is not going to retain its blackness when exposed to water, dirt, or wear. Superhydrophobic coatings such as Never Wet [rustoleum.com] have the same problem - they work because they're composed of tiny points, so droplets of liquid don't have a surface they can grab. But after some wear, the effect stops working. (See any of the many "NeverWet fails" videos on YouTube.)

This is likely to be great for protected environments, such as inside optical systems. It should be useful for optical sensors in space, too. But it's probably an inherently fragile surface. That limits its uses. (The "stronger than steel" probably refers to the individual carbon nanotubes, not the bulk material.)

This s a problem with a lot of surface chemistry stuff touted as "nanomaterials". They have interesting surface properties, but the surfaces are fragile, because they're some very thin surface layer with an unusual structure. If you protect that structure with some coating, you lose the effect.

Re:Inside of cameras (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47444723)

Other than that, probably not that significant.

Is it possible that you perhaps haven't considered every single possible application this might have?

Insides and outsides (1)

sdack (601542) | about 3 months ago | (#47445159)

It is useful not only for insides. It will also help with cooling in a vacuum system. For instance to get rid of the heat, which builds up inside satellites and to radiate the heat out into empty space.

It could prove useful in a thermal solar power plant to produce even higher temperatures.

It is possible the absorption spectrum of the material goes beyond the visible spectrum, or, that it can be modified to work in a different spectrum, and thereby be used for more than just optical systems.

But it does not have to be used for high-tech applications only. Just put some pipes onto your roof, coat the pipes with this material and run water through them. You will get a lot more warm and hot water in your house without paying extra for it.

Heart of Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444611)

Douglas Adams wants it back ... assuming you can find it.

Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444617)

Then there are the military uses that the material's maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.

They will make big money in military applications.

Re:Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444655)

That's the only reason they say that, they have nothing they could discuss - they're fishing for money.

Re:Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444737)

Good point.

2001 (1)

Space (13455) | about 3 months ago | (#47444643)

Build a monolith covered withthe stuff. Sounds about how it is described in the books.

Looks like they'll get rich (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | about 3 months ago | (#47444647)

This is the sort of material which could be used for artificial hearts for lawyers, bankers, and politicians.

What's important to me, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444677)

is how this may make my e-ink display better. ;)

Ep..g. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444685)

that He documents may di5turb other

Does the article mention electrical conductivity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444691)

How about non-visible spectrum absorption?

But does it come in White? (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | about 3 months ago | (#47444715)

Or orange, blue, green. They'll never be able to market it unless they figure out what users want.

Re:But does it come in White? (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 3 months ago | (#47444989)

Racist

Paint for a room (4, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 months ago | (#47444763)

Imagine the surreal experience of opening a door to a room painted floor to ceiling with vantablack and only a small area rug serving as an "island" with a wing chair, ottoman and side table with table lamp floating in space, I can only wonder if you'd get a floating sensation while sitting in the chair.

Another, more cynical part of me suspects that our Government's Intelligence community is already planning on creating such rooms to "enhance" interrogation or make solitary confinement more solitary.

Re:Paint for a room (1)

disposable60 (735022) | about 3 months ago | (#47444973)

A windowless room with a shielded door is waaay cheaper, and at least as effective.

Re:Paint for a room (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 months ago | (#47445093)

Not at all. I'm talking about a lit lamp illuminating the seating area creating a "floating island", not just a dark room with no lights.

2 for 1! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 months ago | (#47444769)

That can't be good for your eyes.

Blacker than the blackest black, times infinity.

I'm torn... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 3 months ago | (#47444785)

Do I make the His Dark Materials joke, or the fuligin joke?

Re:I'm torn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444847)

Do I make the His Dark Materials joke, or the fuligin joke?

Try making one that no-one else already has.

How to you know it's there, Kramer? (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 3 months ago | (#47444809)

"Well, I just assumed!"

Practical applications? (4, Insightful)

davidannis (939047) | about 3 months ago | (#47444815)

I wonder if this has applications in solar power. If you have 100% of light absorbed, the energy has to go somewhere - presumably it heats up.

Re:Practical applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444849)

Not for the common panel method but the power tower method could probably get an advantage.

OK, now I want a shirt made out of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444867)

Where can I buy it?

Wylie Coyote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47444977)

is serious trouble now

A 3' circle of this on a sidewalk (1)

naughtynaughty (1154069) | about 3 months ago | (#47445003)

Should make for some great YouTube videos. Maybe with a flat speaker under it with someone yelling for help.

Finally! (1)

reemul (1554) | about 3 months ago | (#47445017)

How long before Neil Gaiman has a t-shirt made of it?

iron out the wrinkles of slashdot beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445037)

Dice needs to acquire this stuff right now to iron out the wrinkles in their slashdot beta site!!

Prior Art (1)

TarPitt (217247) | about 3 months ago | (#47445049)

Mick Jagger developed this in the '60s, before he became a specialist in historical cryptography :

Paint it Black [youtube.com]

Not dark enough (1)

mendax (114116) | about 3 months ago | (#47445099)

My evil black cat is far darker than that. She is a sink of evil, absorbing all light in a room. If she were much blacker I'd suspect I'd have a tame black hole living with me before, jumping up onto my bed, waking me up to be petted, and then proceeding to try to bite me. Things just don't get blacker than that!

Solar panels (4, Interesting)

Windwraith (932426) | about 3 months ago | (#47445127)

This could be really interesting to use in thermal solar panels (in layman terms: the ones for water heating, not the ones to get electricity). If it absorbs so much light, it's probably more efficient than other materials, and surely much more than black paint. This could raise the efficiency of thermal panels to near 95%, so I hope this becomes a thing.

I wouldn't cover a car with it, though. I don't want to experience a solar oven first-hand.

Attack the Block (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445171)

"No idea. Not a bloody clue. Maybe there was a party at the zoo, and a monkey fucked a fish"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1478964/

ACME Portable holes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445191)

Well not really but if you put a disk of this stuff on any object it'll look like it has a hole to hell in it.

Car (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47445195)

could be interesting....

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