Why does Black absorb more heat?
Ever tried going out in the sun while wearing black clothes? Compared to someone who is wearing a lighter colored shirt, you will sweat much more. Do you know why?
This week, our "How and Why" talks about why black gets hotter compared to other colors. You will also discover about the world's blackest black.
Before knowing the answer, you must first understand how objects are colored. An object's color is based on how much light it absorbs and reflects. Light from the sun is called "white light" because it is the combination of all the colors of the visible light spectrum. The visible light spectrum that our eyes can detect is composed of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Understanding light and colors: Is black a color?
Light travels in waves which can be absorbed, reflected, scattered, and bent. For example, if you look at a leaf, that leaf appears to be green because it reflects the green wavelength back to our eyes and absorbs all the other colors.
If an object appears to be white, it means that the object is reflecting all light waves and absorbing none, but if the object appears to be black, that object is absorbing all the light waves and reflecting little to none of it.
If you want to learn more about the association of light and color, check out our other blog: Why are the Sky and Sea Blue?.
So is black a color? No, in fact, it is the absence of color. Black absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum, thus it is not a color. However, White is a color because it is the presence of all colors. All colors of the visible spectrum combined appear white.
Why does black absorb more heat than other colors?
Light and heat are both energy, and energy can be converted from one form to another. Light energy converts to heat energy when the light is absorbed. When an object absorbs more light, it produces more heat. In simpler terms, more light means more heat.
This answers the question: "why does black absorb more heat than other colors?" Because black absorbs all the light and reflects little to none, it converts more heat.
The darker shade of color, the more heat an object absorbs, while the lighter the color, the less heat it absorbs. The light energy absorbed is then radiated out as heat.
How Black is used in clothing
If you have ever wondered why the fashion industry markets dark-colored clothes during colder months and light-colored clothes in the summer, it has to do with heat absorption. Light-colored garments absorb less light, therefore, producing less heat. Thicker and dark-colored clothes are more in fashion during the colder months because more heat is needed to keep the body warm.
One of the many reasons why most wetsuits for divers are manufactured as black is for warmth. It may not be comfortable wearing a wetsuit under the heat of the sun, but when you get into the water, the temperature is colder.
The longer you stay in the water, the colder your body gets. The body adjusts differently to temperatures underwater than at the surface. Wetsuits are made primarily to keep you warm and enjoy deep and long dives. Having them in black gives you that extra warmth.
Could black be blacker than black?
Yes and recently, a British company called Surrey NanoSystems, made it possible. Vantablack® is the world's darkest man-made substance that can absorb up to 99.965% of light. It is so black that it could be the closest thing to a black hole we'll ever see.
Vantablack is made of Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays (hence, its name) which is "grown" through an extensive process and is exposed to high temperatures. As ironic as it seems, the world's darkest substance uses light to be formed.
Vantablack is not a color, but a material that can be applied to a stable surface. It is made of a "forest" of tiny, hollow carbon tubes that traps the light when it hits the material. The light absorbed cannot escape and eventually turns into heat.
Why was Vantablack® invented?
Vantablack is very important and useful in improving scientific equipment and technology. From sensors, infrared cameras, scientific instruments and a lot more, Vantablack can be applied to prevent unwanted stray light.
For example, eliminating stray light from entering in telescopes makes the device more sensitive to seeing the faintest stars or the farthest galaxies.
Since Vantablack can also absorb so much light energy and convert it to heat, it is useful in solar power development as well.
Can Vantablack be used like paint?
As soon as the company launched Vantablack in 2017, a lot of people have been asking and requesting to apply it to other things. Unfortunately, the material takes a long time to make, and it costs a lot more than gold and diamonds combined. The material is also fragile and not safe for contact with skin.
The only artist with rights to Vantablack is Anish Kapoor, a British sculptor. He has the exclusive license to use Vantablack S-VIS, a sprayable paint of Vantablack, to any stable material for art purposes only.
If you want a paint that is almost like Vantablack, there is one on the market. Black 2.0 is the world's flattest, most pigmented and matte Black acrylic paint available for sale. With just one coat of Black 2.0, any object can have the dark effect like Vantablack. The paint was made by Stuart Semple, a contemporary British artist and curator.
Why does Black Absorb Heat Researches and References
If you want to know more about why does black gets hotter, take a look at our references below.
Below are few links we have used as references, images we use are from wikipedia, Wikicommon, Free stock photos and heat chart drawed to be in °C by Patrice Laborda as well as images of Vantablack® courtesy of Surrey NanoSystems.
- Colors absorb heat
- Why do dark color absorb more heat
- Black absorb heat
- why do black shirts get hot
- Why does black absorb heat
- Wikipedia Vantablack
- Facts about Vantablack
- Croquet ball gets hot
- The Effect of Color on Temperatures Inside Hardhats
Last, but not Least
If you would like to receive interesting content like this in your email Inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.
In addition to our monthly newsletter, we will send you our weekly e-Bulletin with one fascinating topic, like today's article above. There will be no advertising nor sales pitch.
As always we want to thank Youtube and Wikipedia commons for some amazing images and videos on this page!
Thanks for reading, and if you wish, see you next week!
The Research and Media Team at Scotty's.