The black hole of pigment

The Gaboon viper has impressive camouflage:

But even more impressive is the black-black-blackness of its black spots, which achieve a velvety light absorption though very tiny hairy structures.  Great electron-microscope pics at the link.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Pollia fruit puts itself right out there, using reflection and iridescence to make the most of the available light:

Lots of birds and insects know this trick, but for some reason it's rare in plants.

H/t Rocket Science.


MikeD said...

How very odd that you post this when I had been thinking about the (near) absolute black we can manufacture with carbon nanotubes just yesterday (before I saw this). It was in the context of the color "fuligin" from the Gene Wolfe books Urth of the New Sun. My wife's been re-reading them and I was thinking about the possible use of carbon nanotubes to generate a color "darker than black". But I suppose the vipers' scales are even better.

douglas said...

Those structures are fantastic. I wonder if they could be used with other colors, or do they reflect so little that it would appear black anyway. The reduction in specular reflection makes the black read like a hole instead of a surface. That really is taking camouflage to another level.