Three years ago a team of British researchers from Surrey NanoSystems invented and produced the blackest material known to science named Vantablack. Since then, the team permanently works on material by updating its blackness. Today, there is no spectrometer in the world powerful enough to measure how much light it absorbs. Moreover, the material has come out in a sprayable form holding people in awe on its blackening power that will mystify the physical objects painted to black.
Paint, pigment, fabric or something else?
When we look at things painted by Vantablcak we can easily think it’s some kind of fabric, material or powerful paint. But it is not. Vantablack is special coating made from millions of carbon nanotubes, each one measuring around 20 nanometers – approximately 3,500 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. A surface area of just 1 cm squared would contain around 1,000 million of these nanotubes. When light hits the tubes, it’s absorbed and cannot escape—which means that actually, Vantablack is the absence of color.
While being sensitive to touch, Vantablack is super robust against shock or vibration due to the fact that it has almost no mass. Its darkness is so strong (absorb 99.96 percent of incident visible light) that observers need time to perceive it. It’s like you’re looking at a bottomless black hole.
Here’s a short clip of two new, non-nanotube, super-black paints that Surrey NanoSystems uploaded to compare regular black and Vantablack.
The material was originally designed for super technical fields, like space equipment, where its ability to limit stray light makes it ideal for the inside of telescopes. But it could be applied to more everyday objects if the conditions are right. In fact, the team has released ‘spray-on’ form, dubbed Vantablack S-VIS. It absorbs 99,8 percent of visible and ultraviolet light. It can be applied to almost any stable material surface – such as polymers – as well as to large and complex shapes. The only major requirement is that the surface or substrate material must be able to withstand temperatures up to 100°C.
The incredible abilities of Vantablack open a whole range of possibilities in design and applications.