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Vantablack: A black so black that you can't see it

Images can't really describe just how black Vantablack is. Credit: Surrey NanoSystems

An engineering firm from Surrey has announced the release of the world's "darkest material" that absorbs almost all radiation.

Called VantaBlack and made by Surrey Microsystems, the material absorbs 99.96% of all radiation - including visible light and other common wavelengths like microwaves and radio frequencies.

The result is a black so dark that the human eye is incapable of registering surfaces coated in it -giving the appearance of a deep dark void.

The sheets of foil it has been grown on appear crumpled and distorted, yet vanish under the material. Credit: Surrey NanoSystems

Vantablack is made from a thick matt of carbon nanotubes - each around 10,000 times thinner than a human hair - which light and other radiation easily penetrate, but finds it virtually impossible to leave.

A nanogrowth machine of the type used to develop Vantablack Credit: Surrey NanoSystems

The sheets of foil it has been grown on appear crumpled and distorted, yet these contours vanish as the coating of nanotube material gives the illusion of a deep abyss.

The practical uses of this 'blackest of blacks' include enabling space cameras, telescopes and infra red scanning systems to function better in deep space.

The company is unable to comment on any possible military uses but has said that the first orders of Vantablack have been delivered to customers in the "defence and space sectors."

"We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defence and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders."

– Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer, Surrey NanoSystems