Blackest Black: Can a Color Be Completely Void of Light?

What’s the blackest black color you can think of? Does it have a reflection? Watch to learn how researchers discovered a material that absorbs more than 99% of incoming light, making the black color look super black!

Special thanks to Jake Norris for creating the script!

#STEMvee #Black #Vantablack #UltraBlack #Diamonds #wavelengths

Video Description: Barbara, a white woman wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, is standing with a grey background. Images appear to show a bronze statute of a face with a mustache, and another one completely covered in black. Another image shows a tube with hexagon shapes connecting to each other. The next image shows a diamond on a stand and another one completely covered in black.

Transcript: You may remember our older video explaining how humans perceive color and principles of the electromagnetic spectrum. We explained that when we see a black object, it means the object absorbs all the visible wavelengths and reflects none.

We also posted a video afterwards on the first successful image capture of a black hole. In this video we explained a black hole is an object having such a strong gravitational pull that not even light can escape. It is one of the closest physical examples of a perfect blackbody.
In 2019, engineering researchers at MIT reported a material 10 times blacker than anything previously created! Solving for a different problem, trying to boost the electrical and thermal properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), the researchers accidentally created the ultra-black material instead, a material that absorbs 99.995% of incoming light. Sometimes innovation is discovered by coincidence!

Before the MIT researchers made their breakthrough with the MIT black, an ultra-black coating called Vantablack, seen in this image, was the blackest coating created, absorbing 99.96% of light.

Because of their amazing light absorbing properties, ultra-black coatings are being used more and more in applications where light control is important such as astronomy, photography, cinematography and light sensors.

These coatings are made up of carbon nanotube (CNT) “forests” – layers of CNTs. What are CNTs? Discovered in 1991, CNTs are microscopic hollow carbon cylinders with typical diameters measuring close to 1 nanometer. That is extremely small! Human hair, for comparison, measures around 75,000 nm.

CNTs have many unique properties, among them, their structure, which catches visible light photons, where they bounce around, until being released as heat. With limited amounts of visible light photons being reflected, the CNT coatings appear extremely black.

The new blackest black coating was put on display at an art exhibition at the New York Stock Exchange. The exhibit, titled “The Redemption of Vanity”, was created by MIT artist-in-residence, Diemut Strebe, who coated a 16.78 carat diamond, valued at $2 million, with the MIT black.

Interestingly, diamonds are also made up of carbon but because the structure is different than that of CNTs, diamonds have different properties, including being much more reflective. By applying the MIT black, the once sparkling diamond was devoid of any light, making even the angular surfaces and sharply defined ridges appear flat.

Understanding composition and structure has led material scientists and engineers to create materials with unique behaviors and valuable properties. Perhaps in the future, scientists will understand all the underlying mechanisms and create a perfect black body.

Fascinating! What would you coat with the blackest black color?



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