In Brief
  • The company that created Vantablack, the carbon nanotube-based coating that can absorb 99.96 percent of light, just made their famous coating even blacker.
  • The new formula, Vantablack S-VIS, absorbs 99.8 percent of light and can be used on much larger objects.

A Blacker Black

Looking at the photo above, you might be thinking that someone used Photoshop and cut out the bust and filled in the hole with black. Amazingly, that seemingly two-dimensional nothingness is actually the same three-dimensional object painted black with a special coating called Vantablack.

*5* The World’s Blackest Material is Now Even Blacker
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Vantablack was created by Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, and at that time it was able to absorb 99.96 percent of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light. The company later boosted the substance’s blackness so much that the world doesn’t have a spectrometer strong enough to accurately measure how much light it can absorb. There’s no word yet on whether or not the company has reached out to the Rolling Stones for marketing purposes.

Still, the company has developed a clever new way to make the product available to consumers. They have developed a brand new version of Vantablack. The new sprayable formula, Vantablack S-VIS, absorbs 99.8 percent of light, which is enough to allow for this two-dimensional illusion. The new formulation additionally allows for use with much larger objects than has ever before been possible.

Paint it Black

Even in its spray form, Vantablack isn’t actually a paint. The coating is made from carbon nanotubes which are thousands of times smaller than a single human hair. When light hits these tubes, it enters the gaps between them and bounces back and forth, absorbing nearly all light. The researchers say, “The near total lack of reflectance creates an almost perfect black surface.”

*5* The World’s Blackest Material is Now Even Blacker
Image Credit: Surrey NanoSystems

The human eye simply cannot perceive the blackness of an object coated with Vantablack. To some, the object may look like a bottomless pit. There are many possible uses for this new-and-improved Vantablack. Because it is a sprayable formulation that can be used on large objects, it could even be used as a coating on stealth aircraft, likely rendering them invisible at night.

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t see Vantablack as a good option for painting your car. According to the company’s FAQ section, “Though this would undoubtedly result in an amazing looking motor, unfortunately, the limitations of Vantablack in respect of direct impact or abrasion would make this an impractical proposition for most people. It would also be incredibly expensive.”