For those who think of black as the darkest color known to man, they’ve likely never heard of Vantablack. Created in some dark, unknown location by Surrey Nanosystems back in 2014, Vantablack absorbs 99.96% of all ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light which passes through it.
Fast forward to 2016 when researchers created ‘Vantablack S-VIS’ – a stronger version of the color which blocks 99.8% of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. It’s so dark it makes real-world 3D objects – like the masks below – look like flat, empty voids.
In case you’re wondering, the Vantablack S-VIS material used on the outside of the left mask and the inside of the second mask isn’t a fabric, paint, or pigment. It’s actually a special coating used to remove almost all trace of reflection from the surfaces.
This darker version of Vantablack gets this void-like ability through the use of over a million carbon nanotubes in its coating. According to Surrey NanoSystems, each nanotube is 14-50 microns long and 20 nanometers in diameter, meaning a tiny 0.1 cm square area contains over one billion nanotubes.
Though Vantablack S-VIS has seen use in space expeditions, Surrey Nanosystems says more commercial uses in science and art (i.e. bronze masks) are also possible. Be prepared to stare into the void as this new “color” makes it way to the masses really soon.