Coat a diamond with it...
...and you have the heart of a banking executive...
US researchers announced yesterday they'd concocted the darkest material on the planet - a carbon nanotube substance so black it absorbs more than 99.9 per cent of light, Reuters reports. In fact, the stuff's so unrelentingly black it's "30 times darker than a carbon substance used by the US National Institute of Standards and …
As in night camo suits ? Just wondering, but if this is really that black, then being a nice gaping black hole under the moon is not exactly what I would call stealthy.
On the other hand, it could be a very good coating for weapons - keep moonshine or streetlight from gleaming on the barrels.
How about covering a Lamborghini with it? What would that much material cost, and how much would some rich mid-life crisis victim (Jezza Clarkson) pay for "the blackest supercar ... in the world"? (You can just hear him saying it, can't you?) If they go on to show it absorbs radar frequencies too, it's both practical and fashionable.
"What would an object with a total reflective index of 0 look like? Would you be able to see it?"
That depends on how hot it was. It would have a black body radiation curve so if you warmed it up it would glow like anything else.
If it was at room temperature, I guess it would just look like a two-dimensional black shape unless you donned your infrared glasses.
Baldrick made a nugget of the purest green, IIRC.
Also, the stealth implications are more for aircraft and ships than for people. British camouflage has very little black, mainly greens and browns (for temperate climes at least). If the aircraft absorbs all the radiation and doesn't reflect any back, there's no way of picking it up on radar, much like the current stealth technology, where a big evil aircraft shows up about the size of a large bird.
Lord Percy Percy: I've done it, my Lord! I've discovered how to turn things into gold! Pure gold!
Blackadder: You have? Show me!
Lord Percy Percy: [takes lid off melting pot, and Baldrick, Percy and Blackadder are bathed in a green glow] Behold!
Blackadder: Percy... it's green.
Lord Percy Percy: Yes, my Lord!
Blackadder: Now, look, Percy, I don't mean to be pedantic or anything, but the color of gold... is gold. That's why it's called gold. What YOU have discovered, if it has a name, is some... Green.
Lord Percy Percy: [removes lump of Green from pot] Oh, Edmund... can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of purest Green?
Blackadder: Yes indeed, Percy, except that it's not really a nugget but more of a splat.
Lord Percy: Yes, my Lord. A splat today, but tomorrow, who knows, or dares to dream...
re: Coat A Diamond with it..
No. Banking executives have no heart.
No. What Lord Percy invented was 'purest green'.
re: The goths now have their work cut out...
No. They would have them too.
No. It would 'look' like you were floating in a void - it would 'feel' like you were sitting on a floor.
Um, can anyone see where I put my coat?..
Yes. Black. Black. Black! Like the clouds of death that follow me into the Forest of Doom! And hide in the wardrobe of darkness! Black!
Black! Listen! Listen! Do you hear? The moon is weeping in a secret room! They tap at my window, with tiny poles!
Oh! Oh! The monks are troubled and full of woe! I'm a fly! Trapped in a jar of shadows!
Coating the inside of a small box with this stuff would create a cool 'bottomless pit in a box' effect as well.
also "It's the weird colour scheme that freaks me. Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls, which are labeled in black on a black background, a small black light lights up black to let you know you've done it. Hey, what is this, some kind of galactic hyper-hearse?"
Carbon Nanotubes are great...but being more expensive than gold and depositing them on surfaces in such a manner is generally a lab experiment rather than a production method I don't think this will be seen by the public for a long time.
Good news is since CNTs are so resistant to deformation the coating will last far longer than paint.
(P.S: Marky W, I'm sure they would taste terrible. Definately not worth the cancer you'd get from their carcinogenic properties)
You are right, you would not see much light coming back from an object coated with this, but you would see light coming back from whatever was around it so you would easily be able to see the outline. As someone mentioned above, it would look two-dimensional because ALL you can see is the outline so a sphere would look like a circle for example. A person's face coated in this and standing in profile would make a perfect living silhouette (not practical of course but interesting to think about). That said, the reflectivity of even this substance is 1/2000th or so, so I believe human eyes could still make out some detail under bright light (say sunlight) but indoors probably not.
When it comes to objects that are black, what you actually see, is the absence of any reflected light i.e. you only see it, because other surrounding objects are reflecting light towards your eye - so anything that isn't, will still be a clearly defined shape. Or at least that's what my memory of school/college physics tells me.
This is absolutly true Louis.
Therefore what you would be seeing when you looked at it would be the absence of any reflected light (this is why black is black), so you would still (rather easily) percieve it visually, if not actually see it in the most literal scientific sense of the word.
In essence what you would see is a patch of black amongst everything else around it.
It would certainly look (near as dammit) 2D, due to this, you certainly would not be able to see any surface detail unless in profile (so in a way these details are invisible).
Does this help?
From the radio series - the original, and best, HHGTTG
Sorry, but sometimes points have to be made.
I wonder what would happen if you mixed this with the whitest substance in the world - would they cancel out, or just form a dull, boring, middle-of-the-road grey, and be the new black and white
Without wishing to be *too* pedantic, black is presumably the "albedo" of this material, but it may reflect light specularly like a black mirror ... so you can see your face ... in both sides. This would make it possible to discern features, even though it's none ... none more black.
I'd probably feel a lot worse about people not considering the material's full BRDF if I wasn't under such heavy sedation.
"Is all carbon, and by extension, all things made from carbon carcinogenic then?"
Bare Carbon nanotubes are more reactive than most other forms of carbon. They are also of a similar size to asbestos fibres and can be absorbed deep in the lungs.
This has lead to concern from some scientists about whether there could toxicity issues.
Tests are ongoing to determine if they're toxic and whether coating the nanotubes has any effect.
"It's the wild colour scheme that freaks me," said Zaphod whose love affair with this ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight, "Every time you try to operate one of these weird black controls that are labelled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let you know you've done it. What is this? Some kind of galactic hyperhearse?"
Hopefully it will absorb radar, but even if it didn't, when they take a picture for exceeding the limit, all they will see is a black blob with no details. What fun! Now if they can get light to bend around it somehow. Wonderful cloaking devices these things.
Ah, but to dream.
"Is all carbon, and by extension, all things made from carbon carcinogenic then?"
Is not all about elements. Mollecular structure is the key and defines material properties. Diamonds are also made of carbon, but no all carbon-based materials are the hardest natural material in the universe.
But remember that after proving the non-existence of God, Man proved that black is white, so this is the whitest stuff ever, too!
Of course, the downside is, Ajayan's bundling this stuff with his record smallest brush, so it takes a lifetime to apply...
DNA icon? oh, this will do -- he was a genius.
I wonder if it hurts your eyes to look at it.
If you had a 6-inch square of this carbon nanotube material on a brightly-lit table and looked at it, would your brain want to register it as a six-inch square void; making you want to look deeper into it in the hopes of seeing stars (much like 2001's Monolith)?
Just for a larf, I'm waiting for the stuff that will suck some of the ambient light around it so it "glows" black.
"I'd like a floormat made of this, that way people walking up to my house would think twice. On a nice bright sunny day, there is this 2 dimensional looking black.... no texture, no reflection... no contrast... just black."
Put "Welcome Follower" on your mat, and a sign saying "Press Bell for Cult Leader"
PH is my Cult Leader
"Trying to figure this out is making my brain itch, inside"
OK, here's what you gotta do. Stick your finger up your nose, completely, and scratch it! We don't accept returns.
"i'm only wearing black until they make something darker"
Google it, and you'll find a few places that sell something like that -- although I haven't seen any that has black lettering... :-) One stupid store even sells it in different colours. I guess they did not get the joke...
"How do these nanotubes hold up against the average car-wash I wonder?"
I would guess that the owner of such a car wouldn't go to an average car-wash, but have top less babes do the service at his own mansion, manually...
Paris because she can scratch her brain with her finger and would be a passable car washer.
Gah I read all the way through the comments to check if I could mention that first, but you've got it barely before me!
And yes, that was the best way to say dark ever. The only problem with Pratchett is that I have to continuously pause his audio books so that I can have a laugh at things like that and not miss anything...
The stuff was actually developed by Apple for use in Mr. Jobs' MacWorld apparel next year.
It will also be used to finally and complete resolve all "negative black issues" with the iPhone/iTouch products.
How dark is it? It is almost, but not quite, as dark as the lifeless gap between synapses in the average fanboy’s frontal lobe.
"But might be hard to find your car at Heathrow when returning on a night flight..."
Nah, just look for a funny, almost car-shaped (depending of your angle of approach) hole in the universe.
A black "cat suit" sticks out like a dog's nuts even at night time as there is usually some ambient light around (only times I've experienced true, total darkness was some kilometre or so into a cave system and inside a commercial photographic darkroom and in those conditions you are invisible even if dressed in the whitest stuff you can find) this stuff would make an even bigger contrast at night as even a cat suit reflects ambient light to a degree.
FWIW, dark greys, blues, browns and greens make better night-time camouflage, especially if mixed so they break up the shape of a human body (say 2-tone brown and green jacket and dark blue pants) - they can easily get lost in the jumble of "light" and shadow at night... far better than a mono-colour obviously humanoid shape...
Anyway, I now want a complete outfit made of this substance - no more going through my wardrobe frantically looking for pants, shirt and jacket that are all the same shade of "black".
Anyone else think this stuff would be great for Death's robes in the next movie adaptation of a Terry Pratchett novel?
If it absorbs 99.7% of visible light (presumably some infrared and ultraviolet too) it's going to get pretty hot, pretty quickly isn't it?
It should start to glow pretty bright in IR at least, somewhat negating stealth properties and making goths even more sweaty-smelly than usual. (I'm in Australia - goths in 35C summer heat don't smell very nice)
I guess with some major heatsinking it could work, but that really negates the stealth. Sounds like a useful material for solar panels / heatsinks, but not a lot else.
PS - there was a shoe ad here that had a goth in a shoestore holding up a boot saying 'got any blacker?' I guess the answer is 'yes'. Or 'none'
these are tubes right? so can you get or make a photo cell that fits the end.
if so wouldnt these things make the best possible digital cameras and yet be super light for deployment in something like an interstella array?
im assuming if it works, its going to be better than the current super expensive mirrors up there now...
A few random points, relevant to some of the earlier comments:
Current stealth technology depends mainly on the geometry of the aircraft: the surfaces are so angled that hardly any of them reflect back any part of a radar beam. Hence the weird non-aerodynamic shape of stealth fighters and bombers, and the need to have a computer to fly them, since they won't glide.
The radar signature of the average stealth aircraft is the size of an eagle's eye, not the whole eagle (a selling point strongly pushed by the Lockheed Skunkworks during development).
Lockheed nicked the basic idea from a technical paper published by a Soviet scientist who did the maths back in the 1950s (or early on, anyway) before computers were adequate to the job of keeping such a thing airborne.
If you change the geometry, you lose your invisibility. During the first Gulf War, a stealth pilot reported that his bomb bay jammed open, whereupon he was lit up like a Christmas tree and saw a radar-guided missile homing in on him. Fortunately, his bomb bay doors unjammed in the nick of time, and the missile careered off (muttering "Where'd he go?", presumably). Ultra-black paint would avoid the geometry problem, but you would then be faced with keeping it clean, since muck would clog the pores on the paint and make it reflective.
Regarding seeing a non-reflective object as a hole in the background: that is why stealth ships were not developed. The concept was tried, but there is significant radar reflection from waves at sea, and a stealth ship shows up nicely as a ship-shaped black hole in the radar background.
Furry cars were tried back in the 1970s (not sure of the precise date). The intention was novelty, not invisibility. They were covered with a special paint that used electrostatic charge to raise "hairs" on the surface after being sprayed on, giving a matt finish. The effect was disappointing. A car body is designed so that it reflects attractive highlights. Remove the reflection, and the result is just dull. Add to that the fact that the "hairs" wore off in patches. I saw one once, and it looked like a mangy beetle. (In fact, it was a Beetle.) Furry cars were a seven-day wonder. So much for civilian artistic uses.
Whoever said it would be good for the anarchist flag is forgetting that said flag is black and red. If you want pure black flags or shirts, join a slightly different party.
Paris Hilton since she looks better sprayed gold than matt black all over.
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