Sometimes, regular black just isn't good enough. If you're building an ultra-sensitive space telescope, for instance, you want to minimize reflections within that device as much as humanly possible. That's why Surrey NanoSystems released its Vantablack coating two years ago. Now, in order to expand its possible applications, the material is available in a convenient spray-on form.

The conventional form of Vantablack is made up of a forest of light-absorbing carbon nanotubes, and is applied to surfaces via a chemical vapour deposition process. Once in place, it traps 99.965 percent of incoming light – that's enough to make three-dimensional objects which are coated in it appear as two-dimensional voids, across a wide range of viewing angles.

The new version, known as Vantablack S-VIS, is almost as good – it traps 99.8 percent of ultraviolet, visible and infrared light. According to Surrey Nanosystems, that's 17 times less reflective than the super-black paint used in the Hubble telescope.

It's also much easier to apply than the original, and can be used to coat larger, more complex objects composed of a wider variety of materials. That said, a number of "pre- and post-application steps" are still necessary, so it isn't as simple as applying conventional spray paint. It also isn't particularly wear-resistant, so is recommended mainly for surfaces that will be protected by a layer of glass or some other material.

"The new sprayable version really does open up the possibility of applying super-black coatings in many more types of airborne or terrestrial applications," says company CTO Ben Jensen. "Possibilities include commercial products such as cameras, equipment requiring improved performance in a smaller form factor, as well as differentiating the look of products by means of the coating's unique aesthetic appearance."

Clients can have Vantablack S-VIS applied by Surrey NanoSystems, or they can license the technology for their own production facilities. So no, you can't just buy a can to paint your car.

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