In an astonishing display of synthetic madness, scientists have taken it upon themselves to create the blackest material ever known to man.
The material doesn’t owe its unusually dark hue to nature, rather it is a manmade ‘metamaterial’, a labyrinth of innumerable tiny silver wires set in aluminium oxide.
Once light hits this metamaterial, it is reflected and bent at extraordinarily obtuse angles and sent in entirely unnatural directions, such as never seen before. Indeed, the closest analogue to the material is believed to be the opening of an incomprehensibly deep hole.
The device was developed by a team of scientists lead by Evgenii Narimanov, from the Purdue University in Indiana. Professor Narimanov explains how the material reflects less than 0.1% of light whilst absorbing the rest. This, he adds, owes to the object’s blacker than black on an extremely dark night appearance.
When asked the point of such a device, Professor Narimanov responds unsurprisingly, “it’s a military accessory designed to evade the detection of radar”.
It seems this may not be the only use for this light sucking apparatus, as Shawn-Yu Lin, Physicist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y, explains – “this discovery will allow us to increase the absorption efficiency of light as well as the overall radiation-to-electricity efficiency of solar energy conservation”.
Nanotechnologists also believe the material would be useful collecting heat in the frigid vacuum of space.
In fact, the metamaterial has triggered speculation that light may soon be manipulated to the point where objects become invisible to the naked eye. This, however, is much, much harder to achieve, as light wavelengths are preposterously small.
Therefore, it may still be some time before die hard Harry Potter fans, anthropologists, hide and seek Olympians, kleptomaniacs and perverts can lay their hands on any cloak of invisibility.