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Things You Didn't Know About Vantablack: The Darkest Color In The Galaxy

Updated May 24, 2017 66.2k views13 items

When the folks at the National Physical Laboratory set out to manufacture the blackest black in the universe - something rivaled only by an actual black hole - nobody fully understood the implications. Today, the marvel that is Vantablack is finally coming to light. Technically, though, it’s actually absorbing light at a rate that was previously thought to be impossible.

So, what is Vantablack? For starters, it’s the world’s blackest material, doing the work of crazy space substances right here on Earth. Trademarked by Surrey NanoSystems Limited, this laboratory-grown substance isn’t exactly a color. It is a light-absorber so powerful that it actually creates darkness and distortion across everything it touches. The real-life applications for such a material are endless and pretty fantastical - some say it can even make airplanes disappear.

What we do know about this science fiction-esque substance is that it is comprised of vertically aligned nanotube arrays that bounce light particles off of one another until the light is swallowed up and completely disappears. And when Vantablack is applied to a three dimensional object, the object flattens to appear two dimensional, losing all of its features. We also know that this sort of substance could enhance our view of the solar system, allowing us to see planets and stars that we never even knew existed. Here’s a look at the many shades of Vantablack, and how this alien substance will probably (definitely) impact our planet’s future.

  • Because Of Vantablack, Regular Black Is The New Blue

    Video: YouTube

    If Vantablack is the new black then regular old black might just be blue. Isn’t it fascinating how color (and the absence of color for that matter) works? When you see Vantablack placed over Z306 - an ultra-black paint previously utilized for blocking light on scientific telescopes - the black paint appears blue. The ultra-black paint also responds differently when introduced to light from a laser.

  • Vantablack Is Grown On Surfaces, Not Applied To Them

    Photo: Wikipedia

    It’s somewhat mind-boggling to try and fathom the creation of a color, but what you have to remember is that Vantablack is actually the result of the absence of color. Furthermore, it wasn’t exactly created - it was grown. So, how does one go about growing a light absorbing, super-hydrophobic substance?

    Well, in addition to having a scientific laboratory on hand, one would also need to be able to grow billions of carbon nanotubes. These tubes are tiny structures 50,000 times smaller than one human hair follicle, but they pack a powerful punch. They are regarded to be 1,000 times more conductive than copper and 200 times mightier than steel. When bonded together, they create a little forest of mineral sources that suck in and trap light. Many have described the experience of Vantablack as being akin to gaping into a black hole, minus the risk of spaghetti-fication, of course.

  • It’s Being Produced In Spray-Paint Form

    Photo: Wikimedia

    In case you're wondering whether or not your favorite celebrities will soon be bragging about their Vantablack Aston Martins, you’ll be happy to know that a spray-on version of the material just hit the luxury market. Spray-on Vantablack has specific differences from its laboratory-grown counterpart, being that it blocks out a bit less light. Still, the spray version - which does not come in a spray can but rather is applied via a spray-painting processes - is a super-hydrophobic absorber coating being sold to some luxury manufacturers, but is still unavailable for private use.

    So, in short, the answer is yes - Vantablack spray painted luxury products could be on the horizon now that it has successfully been manufactured in spray form. However, the product is super fragile and needs to be applied in such a way that it is protected from human touch. The spray paint variant of the famed substance is called S-VIS.

  • It Could Help Us To Build More Powerful Telescopes

    Photo: Pixabay

    Paint on telescopes isn’t there for vanity purposes - it plays a much more powerful role. Telescopes designed for scientific space research have interiors painted as dark as possible in order to block out light and afford a better glimpse into the skies. In this sense, Vantablack could make it possible for telescopes like the Hubble to gaze even father into space at never before seen planets, faint or tiny stars, and other details of the universe that today remain hidden mysteries.