Join Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions! Subscribe Today!

Darker than Dark, this Carbon Nano-Material Must Be For the Men in Black

Scientists, in their never ending search for extremities that may find practical use in aiding humankind, have stumbled upon some fascinating discoveries in recent years.

Just to illustrate the point,while conductivity is cool, superconductivity is really cool. In a similar line of thought, computer components nearing microscopic dimensions allow less space to be occupied… so why not just go ahead and take computation into the nano-realm, and make things as small as they possibly can be? Eventually, experts believe that the implementation of such nano-technological computation will not only enable computers to become virtually pocket-sized; in theory, they could expend little or no heat in their operation, thus removing many of the burdens of entropic forces on our modern PCs (you know what we’re talking about, that noisy fan in the back of your laptop that churns endlessly while you’re running 14 programs at once).

Another recent discovery that seeks to take the physical universe to new extremes sounds like it came right out of the movies, and in fact, would arguably be fit for any MIB. In what is described as the creation of a “revolutionary” new carbon nano-material, scientists are touting the many benefits of working with a substance that is, quite literally, blacker than black. It’s so dark, it warrants an entirely new name: Vantablack. 

ventablack describes the new substance below:

Called Vantablack, Surrey says the new material “is revolutionary in its ability to be applied to lightweight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium whilst absorbing 99.96 percent of incident radiation, believed to be the highest-ever recorded.”

Vantablack is created through a low-temperature carbon nanotube growth process. It took two years of development and testing to achieve success in applying the material onto aluminum structures and pyroelectric sensors, readying it for use in actual imaging systems. It can be used to coat components like optical sensors, baffles, and apertures.

One can easily imagine the variety of technological applications for super-black materials like Vantablack (and to make it simpler on the overburdened imagination, some are already listed above). However, maybe there are other applications that will arise in the future, which would be of importance to the ever-curious minds among our military organizations.

When it comes to the creation of aircraft that are truly stealth, a number of creative ideas have been expressed over the years about how better to conceal airborne vehicles capable of carrying humans, or of greater importance, cameras, over enemy territory for use in gathering intelligence from all parts of the world. The history of stealth aircraft flight, especially following recent disclosures made by the CIA (strangely enough, a lot has been said about this via their Twitter account), tell us little more than what we already suspected: that since 1954, spy planes like the U2 have been in use, having made its inaugural flight over Russia on July 4th, 1956.


But as we examine the history of high-altitude and stealth flight, a prevailing question that might come to mind would be, “what should make us think there aren’t any number of secret aviation projects going on today that are of similar caliber?” Furthermore, with the inclusion of metamaterial technologies and the burgeoning scientific fields of transformation optics already being utilized for applications aimed at making objects, or even people, virtually invisible, its hard to believe that any technology of use in disguising already secretive projects would be overlooked.

In other words, when we say that Vantablack would be fit for the “Men in Black,” maybe we’re aren’t just speaking metaphorically!


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
You can follow Micah on and