This Black is the New Black.

  • by Jenny Bahn

You know that pair of black jeans you bought and how awesomely dark they were before you cleaned them? One wash in, and they’ve faded, half the black they used to be. So be the hazards of the materials of mere mortals.

Luckily for us, Surrey NanoSystems out of the UK has a bit of a god complex, and has taken the shade into their own hands, developing Vantablack, a fabric made out of carbon nanotubes, previously known for their thermal conductivity and use in electronics, optics, and technology. (If you’ve swung a baseball bat or a golf club in the last decade, you’ve probably interacted with carbon fiber.)  

Okay, but so how does this stuff work in textiles? “We grow the tubes like a field of carbon grass,” Ben Jensen, Surrey’s Chief Technical Officer, tells The Guardian. “The tubes are spaced apart. When a light particle hits the material, it gets between the tubes and bounces around, is absorbed and converted to heat. Light goes in, but it can't get back out."

This stuff is like the black hole of black fabric… which it certainly looks like. Staring at its surface is like falling down a bottomless pit; there is no tactile surface, only empty and endless cavernous space.

Just try washing endless abyss out of your clothing.


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