Blackest Black is Bird-of-Paradise Lovedance-Black

Vantablack ist angeblich das schwärzeste Schwarz, kriegt jetzt aber Konkurrenz von Paradiesvögeln. Die Tiere entwickelten, um ihre knallbunten Federn so richtig schick zur Geltung zu bringen, die superschwärzesten Federn der Welt, die tatsächlich nahezu genauso viel Licht absorbieren, wie das künstliche Nanoschwarz. Blackbirds of Paradise FTW!

DiscoverMag: How These Birds Look So Incredibly Black
Paper: Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers

Researchers from Harvard and Yale Universities looked at several bird of paradise species whose colorful patterns were surrounded by incredibly black feathers, an effect that likely serves to heighten the contrast between them. The effect could even give the plumage a luminous quality, they say, a bit of visual trickery that extreme contrasts between light and dark can bring. The end effect is to make the birds more noticeable, and thus more likely to land an interested female.

With a host of imaging techniques, the researchers examined feathers from the birds on a microscopic level and found that they were much more intricate than feathers from birds that were conventionally black. Where normal bird feathers have single spines that lay in the same plane as the main stem, the birds of paradise had feathers that branched into numerous tiny barbules that curved up and toward the feathers’ tips.

The tiny spikes form a complex array of deep cavities that serves to bounce incoming light around inside the structure, as opposed to reflecting it back out, the researchers say. The more light bounces, the more opportunities there are for it to be absorbed, and birds of paradise are so effective at bouncing light around that they suck up 99.95 percent of it. Vantablack, by contrast, absorbs a bit more than 99.96 percent of light — less than two tenths of a percent more.