MIT Engineers Say There’s a New Blackest Black on the Block

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Since 2016, Vantablack, the world’s “blackest black” pigment, has been controlled by artist Anish Kapoor.

(Somebody needs to alert the Spinal Tap fans out there!)

But as of now, he no longer owns the blackest black out there because engineers at MIT have developed a new material that is 10 times blacker than Vantablack.

The new material, made of carbon nanotubes, absorbs 99.995% of all incoming light.

They created it by vertically aligning the microscopic carbon filaments, which resulted in a sort of fuzzy forest of trees that they them grew on a piece of chlorine-soaked aluminum.


The results were published in a scientific journal, as well as displayed in an exhibition at the New York Stock Exchange.

The artwork on display is called The Redemption of Vanity and was conceived by Diemut Strebe in collaboration with MIT professor Brian Wardle. Together, they covered one of the shiniest objects they could think of – a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond worth 2 million dollars – with the new black pigment. This made it appear to be a black void in front of another black background.


Wardle talked a bit about the project and why he thinks it’s important”

“There are optical and space science applications for very black materials, and of course, artists have been interested in black, going back well before the Renaissance. Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that’s ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually we’ll understand all the underlying mechanisms, and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black.”

The scientists made the discovery on accident – they were looking for a way to grow carbon nanotubes on materials that would boost electrical conductivity, not a blacker black than Vantablack – but they couldn’t help but notice how black their substance became as it grew.

Now, they’re applying for a patent for the technology. And word on the scientific street is that the artists who were irked about Kapoor’s monopolization of Vantablack will be pretty happy to have an alternative.

I, for one, am new to the ruckus and completely fascinated.

Blackest blacks and their blacker challengers are a thing scientists and artists throw down over. Who knew?