Black is the New Black; MIT Discovers Color that Absorbs Over 99% of Light

Until recently, Vantablack was always thought to be the blackest black in the world. However, according to MSN, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) just unveiled the new blackest black. A statement from MIT said the black material is made of “vertically aligned carbon nanotubes” that look like “a fuzzy forest of tiny trees.”

The discovery was accidental. Brian Wardle and Kehang Cui were trying to find a way to grow carbon nanotubes on aluminum so it could be more conductive of heat and electricity. Cui said he had noticed that the black material was even blacker after they grew the nanotubes. So, they tested it and found that it absorbed 99.995% of light, making it the blackest black material ever recorded. Vantablack only absorbs 99.96% of light.

This discovery is making waves in the art world due to the controversy surrounding Vantablack. An artist named Anish Kapoor obtained exclusive rights for the use of Vantablack pigment in 2016, according to the Daily Mail. This move angered artists around the world who wanted to get their hands on such a groundbreaking material. Most notably, it angered artist Stuart Semple.

Semple retaliated by creating “The World’s Pinkest Pink” acrylic paint and made it available for purchase by anyone who isn’t Anish Kapoor. On his website, Culture Hustle, the page to buy the pink paint contains this note: “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”

His other products include “The World’s Glowiest Glow” pigment and Black 2.0, “the world’s mattest, flattest, black art material.” Semple created Black 2.0 as an alternative to Vantablack that was available to all artists, except Kapoor. He documented the idea and creation of this product on Instagram with the hashtag #sharetheblack.

On Dec. 23, 2016, Kapoor posted a picture to his Instagram of his middle finger dipped in Semple’s pinkest pink with the caption “Up yours #pink.” The very same day, Semple posted a video of him holding up a peace sign with his fingers dipped in Vantablack. This rivalry is still battling it out today.

Now, there’s a new blackest black on the block, diminishing Kapoor’s monopoly on the new wave of super-black art. In fact, CNN said that the new material is used in an art piece currently on display at the New York stock exchange. The piece is a $2 million 16.78 carat diamond coated in the black substance. It is entitled “The Redemption of Vanity.” The project was coined by Diemut Strebe and was made at MIT alongside Wardle and his team.

If you happen to find yourself in New York, the piece will be on display at the New York Stock Exchange until Monday, Nov. 25.

Written by 

Kat McDonald-Wilson is a senior at TCHS. She is the Fine Arts Editor for the Timber Creek Talon and the Copy Editor for the Art and Literature Magazine.

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