What’s the black? Is it the absence of colour or light? The black, like all the colours, is a visual perception and in order to feel it no lights must reach the eye. But usually we don’t see around nothing so black. All the shadows of black that we daily see absorbe the biggest part of the light, but not all of it. Anyway there are blacks of an incredibly gradiation and teams of studiers that realize them and that study their characteristics and their usages.
From the Vantablack to the Blackest Black
Only in the 2014 we thought we’d crowned the king of the black: the Vantablack. The black blacker of the black was realized by a team of researchers of the NanoSystems in England. It was realized with carbon nanotubes, 10 thousand times thinner than a human hair, the Vantablack absorbed the 99,96% of the light.
The quantity of absorbed light was such that the human eye didn’t really feel it, by letting “disappear” every object that it covered. The human eye wasn’t able anymore to distinguish the contours of the object, or the shape, and we have the feeling that the obejct disappeared in an incredible effect black hole, or that, more simply, it was digitally obscured.
But the Vantablack didn’t remain so long on the podium. The engineers of the MIT realized a black darker than every known tones, an almost total black, which got really close to the absolute black, by absorbing the 99.995% of the light and that is called Blackest Black.
The darkest black of the world
The Blackest Black absorbes the 99.995% of the light and it is at least 10 times darkest than every known tones. It was realized thanks to the carbon nanotubes too, this time they were vertically lined up on a treated aluminium foil.
To discover it were the engineers of the MIT, precisely the professor of Aeronautic and Astronautic, Brian Wardle, and Kehang Cui, which now moved in the university of Shangai, the Jiao Tong University, but the discovery happened by chance.
The professor, infact, were working on some materials, between which the aluminium, to increase the capacity of thermal and electrical conduction. To do it on the aluminium foil they grown carbon nanotubes and the results went far beyond the whished one.
How was the Blackest Black created?
Like we said the purpose of the study was another one. In the initial phase they studied the way to fight the oxidation of the aluminium, by treating it with many substances. Between those substances there were even the sodium chloride, the common kitchen salt. Right this one erodes the first layer of the carbon foil, by taking out the oxidation on it.
In thise case the erosion procession wasn’t a negative thing, far from the scientists decided, infact, to use it for their advantage.
The aluminium foil, treated with the salt, was firstly placed in an environment without oxygen, so to avoid new oxidations, afterwards it was placed in a special hoven. This process, called chemical statempend with vapour, let on the same foil grow carbon nanotubes.
While finished the procedure the scientists believed to have gotten a material with incredible thermal capacity, but the result was an almost absolute black.
By studying it they found out, so, that the new created material was the darkest black ever, for this reason it was called Blackest Black.
The usages of the darkest black ever
With its 99.995% of capacity to absorbe the surrounding light the Blackest Black actually obtained the whished result. The new material, made by combined the treated aluminium foil and the carbon nanotubes, convertes the biggest part of the absorbed light in heat, by improving so its thermal and electrical capacities.
But probably it won’t be the main usage. Its most incredible property is infact the almost total absence of colour. It might be used to removed the light and the glows unwanted from cameras and telescopes, even the space ones.
At the moment the incredible material is on the New York Stock Exchange, like spearhead of the show The Redemption of Vanity.
And to show its potentialities it’s been used one of the brighest object of the world: a yellow diamant from 16.78 carat. The darkest black ever is able to let magically disappear even the brighest and most precious object.
This post is also available in: Italiano