Surrey NanoSystems has developed a material that absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light. It's the blackest material ever. Were it not too expensive, it would make perfect night camouflage.
To stare at the "super black" coating made of carbon nanotubes – each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair – is an odd experience. It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss.
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,"...
Vantablack ... works by packing together a field of nanotubes, like incredibly thin drinking straws. These are so tiny that light particles cannot get into them, although they can pass into the gaps between. Once there, however, all but a tiny remnant of the light bounces around until it is absorbed.
... "very expensive" – the cost of the material is one of the things he was unable to reveal.
The material conducts heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and has 10 times the tensile strength of steel.
Actually, it is probably too black for night camouflage. Whoever was wearing it would stand out like a person-shaped hole in the night.