Imagine shining a flashlight on a black surface and seeing... nothing. This happened to me back in June outside a small coastal town in the UK. I was at Surrey NanoSystems, the company that makes the black material I was marveling at. It’s called Vantablack, and it’s one of the darkest substances on Earth.
One of the most visually impressive performances at this year’s Coachella was special, not just because of what the audience could see, but because of what they couldn’t see. Behind Gesaffelstein, the French record producer and DJ, was a monolith covered entirely in Vantablack.
The first undergraduate student that undertook a year-long industrial placement at Surrey Nanosystems created a material that was used at the winter Olympic games. To say the placement was a success might be an understatement. ‘It was a fantastic result,’ says Ben Jensen, chief technology officer and founder of the company.
Have you ever gotten up to use the restroom during a movie screening, then struggled to find your seat when you re-enter the darkened theater? Now imagine how much tougher it would be if the theater wasn’t just dark, but literally the blackest black you’ve ever seen. Or not been able to see, in this case.
That’s the kind of disorienting effect that a major games developer recently turned to the U.K. company Surrey NanoSystems to create. And, boy, did Surrey NanoSystems deliver!
Stand in front of a surface coated in Vantablack and it feels like you might fall in. The nanotech material isn’t just the blackest black you’ve ever seen, it looks like there’s nothing there. A hole in space.
Step into a room painted floor to ceiling with the stuff and the world disappears. It’s a little like being in a sensory deprivation tank. Your eyes and ears strain to get a grip on something, anything
Over the last number of years, H. Moser has become well known for its Concept line of watches, which do away with the markings and branding usually placed on watch dials, opting instead for a clean, open look that lets the materials and finishes speak for themselves. The latest installment in that series is the Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept, which really takes things to the next level. The dial of this watch is coated in Vantablack, a proprietary material that uses carbon nanotubes to absorb light. The result is a black that appears blacker than any other manmade substance.
Researchers have developed a new instrument that can analyze light reflected from very small or extremely dark materials such as some meteorite samples and VANTABlack, the darkest manmade substance created. The instrument is already revealing new information about these and other difficult-to-analyze surfaces.
Vantablack is an ultra black coating originally developed by Surrey NanoSystems for use in satellite-borne instruments. It achieved space heritage in 2015, eliminating the Sun’s glare in satellite positioning systems. Vantablack now incorporates a range of ultra-black coatings that are distinguished by exhibiting the lowest known reflectance in any of their target applications. This generally results in one of the Vantablack coatings being the material of choice in resolving critical stray light problems in challenging environments