Ever since scientists announced that they had created the world’s blackest black, the concept of a color so dark it can obscure an object’s contours has boggled minds. But now, reports ArtNet's Sarah Cascone, it’s time to bend your brain again. Researchers have created a new world’s blackest black—and it’s so light-absorbing, it messes with both mass spectrometers and onlookers’ feeble minds.
Like its predecessor, Vantablack’s younger sibling is really, really black. It's "flattens all 3D features to black" black. It sucks out an object’s perceived dimensions in favor of, well, black. Videos released by Surrey NanoSystems live up to the hype—the pigment not only turns a 3D sculpture into a big blob of black, but makes a laser vanish due to its lack of color.
Unlike its predecessor, the new technology does not use carbon nanotubes to absorb visible light. The product is a “new non-nanotube coating we have in development,” Surrey NanoSystems writes. “Unlike Vantablack, which is a free space material that doesn't tolerate handling, this is a solid coating that is far more tolerant.”
A super-black material that can be handled by humans will be a major advance since, as Alyssa Buffenstein reported last year for VICE, the nanoparticles in the first substance are potentially dangerous. When touched, they can come loose and irritate the eyes, and even damage organs.
But for some, that’s a small price to pay—and the artistic feuds generated by the substance are sure to be just as hazardous as any physical danger. As SmartNews reported last year, artist Anish Kapoor acquired exclusive rights to Vantablack 1.0 in a move that incensed the art world and caused fellow artists to claim he was trying to monopolize a color that should be available to all. (Another artist, Stuart Semple, then spitefully banned Kapoor from using the world’s pinkest pink.)
Now, Cascone reports that Semple has just released a black paint he’s calling Black 2.0—and announced he’d sell it to anyone but Kapoor. Though Black 2.0 is no Vantablack, it’s pretty black. “IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: this is not the blackest black in the world,” Stuart Semple writes on his website. “It is however a better black than the blackest black in the world as it is actually usable by artists.” Well, kind of. Due to high demand, Black 2.0 is momentarily on backorder—so if you want to use the world’s blackest black or the world’s second-blackest black, you’re going to have to wait until science (or commerce) catches up.