Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is one of the darkest substances known, absorbing up to 99.965% of visible light (at 663 nm if the light is perpendicular to the material). The name is a compound of the acronym VANTA (vertically aligned nanotube arrays) and the color black.
As one of the darkest materials, Vantablack has many potential applications, such as preventing stray light from entering telescopes, and improving the performance of infrared cameras both on Earth and in space.
Vantablack may also increase the absorption of heat in materials used in concentrated solar power technology, as well as military applications such as thermal camouflage. Its emissivity and scalability support a wide range of applications.
In addition to directly growing aligned carbon nanotubes, Vantablack is made into two sprayable paints with randomly-oriented nanotubes, Vantablack S-VIS and Vantablack S-IR with better infrared absorption than the former. These paints require a special license, a temperature of 100–280 °C, and vacuum post-processing. Surrey NanoSystems also markets a line of non-nanotube sprayable paints known as Vantablack VBx that are even easier to apply.
Vantablack S-VIS, a sprayable paint that uses randomly-aligned carbon nanotubes and only has high absorption in the visible light band, has been exclusively licensed to Anish Kapoor’s studio for artistic use.
Nanolab, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based carbon nanotube manufacturer, partnered with Boston artist Jason Chase to release a nanotube-based black paint called Singularity Black. During the first showing of the colour, Chase, alluding to Vantablack, stated that “its possibilities have been stunted by not being available to experiment with,” and Singularity Black’s release was important to create access.
The manufacturer claims that Vantablack is subject to export controls by the UK, and due to its physical requirements and thermal characteristics, the original Vantablack is not practical for use in many types of art.
Vantablack VBx2, a variant of the non-nanotube Vantablack VBx that is optimized for large area spraying, was used in a “Vantablack pavilion” at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
BMW unveiled an X6 concept with Vantablack paint at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2019; however, the company does not plan on producing the color on production models of the X6.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer H. Moser & Cie have used this technology in their watches.