Vantablack

How do you see accurately across a galaxy and image the Earth's climate with sufficient precision to understand climate change?" Read on to see how Vantablack helps improve technology in the harshest of environments...

 

What is Vantablack?

Vantablack® is a super-black coating that holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance. It was originally developed for satellite-borne blackbody calibration systems, but its unique physical and optical properties have resulted in it finding widespread application. Vantablack is available in two versions, either directly applied to surfaces using vacuum-deposition technology or, in the case of Vantablack S-VIS, by spraying and then post-processing.

Vantablack absorbs virtually all incident light, making it ideally suited to addressing a host of light-suppression and light-management problems. It reflects so little light that it is often described as the closest thing to a black hole we'll ever see. With such exceptionally low levels of reflectance, Vantablack produces some startling optical effects; when it's applied to a three-dimensional object, Vantablack is so black that it becomes extremely difficult to discern any surface features, and three-dimensional objects appear to become two-dimensional.   

In fact, Vantablack absorbs more than just visible light, and is equally-effective across a whole range of the spectrum that is invisible to the human eye.  It is used in applications ranging from space-borne scientific instrumentation to luxury goods, and its ability to deceive the eye opens-up a whole range of possibilities in design.

Vantablack FAQs

The Science

Vantablack coatings are a 'forest' of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Light energy bounces into the nanotube cavities and is quickly absorbed and converted to heat - with a miniscule amount of reflection.

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S-VIS Coating

In addition to the blackest black in the world, we now have the second blackest coating - Vantablack S-VIS - a carbon nanotube paint that can be sprayed onto surfaces, opening up many new applications.

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The visual impact of Vantablack

Vantablack's near-total absorption of light makes surfaces appear two dimensional - as this image of a coating applied to wrinkled foil illustrates!

 

Applying Vantablack

Vantablack® is a thin film of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) directly synthesied on the surface of a substrate (or object)

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Samples
& Development

Surrey NanoSystems currently provides Vantablack as a coating service from its processing facility near Brighton

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Vantablack's exceptional properties

Ultra low reflectance - Vantablack absorbs 99.965% of light (750nm wavelength)

UV, Visible and IR absorption - Absorption works from UV (200-350 nm wavelength), through the visible (350-700nm) and into the far infrared (>16 microns) spectrum, with no spectral features.

Very high front to back thermal conduction - excellent for Black Body calibration sources

Super hydrophobic - Unlike other black coatings, water has no impact on the optical properties

Very high thermal shock resistance - Repeatedly plunging a Vantablack coated substrate into liquid Nitrogen at -196°C and then transferring to a 300°C hot plate in air does not affect its properties.

Resistant to extreme shock and vibration - Independently tested, Vantablack has been subjected to severe shocks and vibration simulating launch and staging.

Low outgassing and mass loss - Independent testing to ECSS shows almost undetectable levels of outgassing, CVCM, WVR, RML and TML

Excellent BDRF and TIS performance - Even at shallow angles the levels of blackness outperforms all other commercial super-black coatings