Description of Vantablack
At a nondescript industrial park in south England, scientists have created a new super-black material — fashioned out of carbon
nanotubes — that is so dark it’s like “looking at a black hole.” The material, called Vantablack, absorbs all but 0.035% of the
incident light that bounces off it, meaning your eyes essentially can’t see it — you can only see the space around it, and then infer
that there must be something occupying that eerie abyss.
"Vantablack." (2015): n. pag. 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
"It’s like Staring ‘into a Black Hole': World’s Darkest Material Will Be Used to Make Very Stealthy Aircraft, Better Telescopes | ExtremeTech." ExtremeTech. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
Comparison to Other Materials
Vantablack is an improvement over previous substances developed. Charcoal reflects 4% of the incident light. Vantablack
absorbs all but 0.035%. Also, this new substance can be created at 400 °C (752 °F). NASA developed a similar substance that
could be grown at 750 °C (1,380 °F). Vantablack, therefore, can be grown on materials that cannot withstand higher
Scientific Description of the Vantablack
We know from previous studies that vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, if you pack them closely together, allow light (photons)
to come in — but then don’t let the photons out again. Basically, carbon nanotubes (like graphene) are incredibly absorbent
to most forms of radiation — so incident radiation strikes the material, and then bounces around and gets absorbed so
effectively that almost no radiation escapes.
In this case, Vantablack absorbs 99.965% of incident radiation — or, to put it another way, just 0.035% of radiation that
hits Vantablack is reflected. Surrey NanoSystems doesn’t say which frequencies of radiation are absorbed, but we know from
previous studies that carbon nanotubes are incredibly absorbent across a huge range of spectra, from ultraviolet, to visible light,
to infrared, to microwaves. As such, Vantablack is an awesome material for stealth aircraft, weapons, and a whole host of other
military uses. It will also be used on the inside of telescopes and other imaging devices, where absorbing stray radiation can
significantly reduce the amount of noise —and thus increase the effective range and resolution).
Consider each of the following statements. Does the information in the three sources support the inference as stated?
"Direct sunlight provides illumination of about 100,000 lux (a measurement unit of light intensity). Vantablack would reflect less than 100 lux from direct sunlight."
"Vantablack could absorb energy from microwaves and radio waves, and thus make it difficult to be detected by radar."
"When exposed to light, charcoal would reflect at least 1,000 times more light than Vantablack."