Behold the two artworks above. The one on the left appears like a standard sculpture, a three-dimensional rendering of a mustachioed man’s face. The sculpture on the right, however, appears more like a flat, black blob.
Yet in fact, you are looking at two identically shaped, three-dimensional sculptures; when the two are viewed from a different angle, you can see the same bulges and curves in both. The sculpture on the right just happens to be really, really, really black. A black so black everything made in the material appears completely flat and empty.
In 2014, a color formerly known as the “world’s blackest black” was developed by a U.K. nanotech company called Surrey NanoSystems. Officially called “Vantablack,” the material is made from densely packed carbon nanotubes in a special high-heat chamber. The resulting dark matter is incredibly non-reflective, absorbing 99.96 percent of the light that hits it.
The art world became invested in the very black black after British sculptor Anish Kapoor seized exclusive rights to the material. He described it to artnet News as “the blackest material in the universe after a black hole. It’s literally as if you could disappear into it.” But now even Kapoor’s pigment is runner-up to Vantablack 2.0, which researchers describe as a “coating so black that our spectrometers can’t measure it!”
The product, which is still in development and not yet released, is described by Surrey NanoSystems as “a new non-nanotube coating.” They also noted that, while original Vantablack is a “free space material that doesn’t tolerate handling,” the new edition is “a solid coating that is far more tolerant.”
Or, in non-science terms, as artnet put it, “it eats lasers and flattens reality.” Sick.
See the blacker than blackest black black in action in the video below. Whether or not scientists will ever create an even more glittery glitter has yet to be determined.
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