This new material is not black, it’s super black… and you can’t see it
Image: Manczurov/Shutterstock

Black just became way cooler.

British company Surrey NanoSystems has developed a super black coating that absorbs 99.96% percent of visual light, setting a new world record.

Made out of carbon nanotubes, the new material, dubbed Vantablack, is so, so dark that the human eye can’t discern its shape and dimension.

The nanotubes are 10,000 thinner than human hair and are so tightly packed together that light particles can’t get through them. This means most of the light is absorbed, creating an effect that its inventors describe almost like a black hole.

The inventors have grown this nanotube material in sheets of aluminium foil, which they have manipulated to create different shapes. But the shapes can't be seen because everything that’s covered by Vantablack appears smooth because of its light absorbing properties. "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," said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer, to The Independent's Ian Johnston.

Vantablack can be used to calibrate astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems to get better readings. "It reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems. Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation”, said Jensen in a release.

"Many people think black is the absence of light. I totally disagree with that. Unless you are looking at a black hole, nobody has actually seen something which has no light," professor of colour science and technology Stephen Westland from Leeds University in the UK told The Independent. "These new materials, they are pretty much as black as we can get, almost as close to a black hole as we could imagine."