Materials

World's blackest material is now world's blackest "spray paint"

World's blackest material is n...
It may look like a circle superimposed on the photo, but this is actually a round object coated in Vantablack S-VIS
It may look like a circle superimposed on the photo, but this is actually a round object coated in Vantablack S-VIS
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It may look like a circle superimposed on the photo, but this is actually a round object coated in Vantablack S-VIS
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It may look like a circle superimposed on the photo, but this is actually a round object coated in Vantablack S-VIS
A three-dimensional face, coated in Vantablack S-VIS
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A three-dimensional face, coated in Vantablack S-VIS

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.

A three-dimensional face, coated in Vantablack S-VIS
A three-dimensional face, coated in Vantablack S-VIS

"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.

Source: Surrey NanoSystems

12 comments
PrometheusGoneWild.wordpress.com
Radar? I know the process of focused on visible light, but it seems to me it is just a tweek away from stealth.....
Daishi
I wonder what it would cost to paint a car flat black black with this. I wouldn't do it in Arizona though.
Donald Vitez
This material is ideal for Industrial machine vision applications, to prevent reflection of ambient light into the camera lens.
CharlieSeattle
How everyone can envision what a Black Hole looks like, er, or does not look like.
Madlyb
"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." Doesn't that defeat the purpose? If this coating is covered in a protective layer, will that layer not then reflect light?
Oun Kwon
Man cannot make light brighter (just look at the sun with the naked eyes). However, man can make black blacker. How about 'more blacker'?
PaulMccarthy
Can a laser range finder still get a reflection off the=is coating
WildKarrde
What's the point of putting it in a spray can if I can't use it for my car!?
JohnSchlemiel
I have reason to doubt it's worth all the hype. Not for the scientific community of course... it's use for satellite imaging systems would be unprecedented naturally with it's uber-low reflectance On the other hand, why would they only license it to one single gallery... allowing the hype to build until it has god-like standing in certain circles... circles with money. Maybe, compared to other already-in-use ultra black, blacks, it's really not that great. Maybe, if they let it go out to real artists, it might get out that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.