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IUPAC name
Activated carbon high density skeleton
Other names
  • Multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT)
  • Vantablack S-VIS
  • Vantablack S-IR
Appearance Solid black coating
Density 2.5 mg/cm3
Melting point >3,000 °C (5,430 °F; 3,270 K)
Safety data sheet CAS 308068-56-6
GHS pictograms GHS07: Harmful
GHS Signal word Warning
H319, H335
P261, P305+351+338, P281
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
REL (Recommended)
<1 μg/m3 over an 8-hour TWA
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references
Wrinkled aluminium foil with a portion—equally wrinkled—coated in Vantablack[3]

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).[4][5]

The name is a compound of the acronym VANTA (vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays)[6] and the color black.


Vantablack grown on metal foil

Vantablack is composed of a forest of vertical tubes "grown" on a substrate using a modified chemical vapor deposition process. When light strikes Vantablack, instead of bouncing off, it becomes trapped and is continually deflected amongst the tubes, eventually becoming absorbed and dissipating into heat.[7]

Vantablack was an improvement over similar substances developed at the time. Vantablack absorbs up to 99.96% of visible light and can be created at 400 °C (752 °F). NASA had previously developed a similar substance that was grown at 750 °C (1,380 °F), so it required materials to be more heat resistant than Vantablack.[7]

The outgassing and particle fallout levels of Vantablack are low. The high levels in similar substances in the past had limited their commercial utility. Vantablack also has greater resistance to mechanical vibration, and has greater thermal stability.[8]


Early development was carried out at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK;[9] the term "Vanta" was coined some time later.[10] Vertically aligned nanotube arrays are sold by several firms, including NanoLab,[11] Santa Barbara Infrared[12] and others.[13]

The Vantablack name is trademarked by Surrey NanoSystems Limited,[14] and has been referenced in three patents registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[15]


Being the darkest material, this substance has many potential applications, including preventing stray light from entering telescopes, and improving the performance of infrared cameras both on Earth and in space.[13]

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.[16] Surrey NanoSystems also markets a line of non-nanotube sprayable paints known as Vantablack VBx that are even easier to apply.[17]

Artistic use[edit]

BMW X6 Vantablack at Frankfurt Motor Show 2019

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.[18] This has caused outrage among some other artists, including Christian Furr and Stuart Semple.[19][20] In retaliation, Semple banned Kapoor from buying the strongest shade of pink that Semple had developed.[21][22] He later stated that the move was itself like performance art and that he did not anticipate the amount of attention it received.[23] In December 2016, Kapoor posted an Instagram post of his middle finger dipped in Semple's pink.[24] Semple then created another shade of paint made from crushed glass as a retort to Kapoor, and later barred Kapoor from buying other products of his, including his extremely strong shades of green and yellow paint as well as a paint sold as Black 2.0, which is nearly indistinguishable to Vantablack VBx, despite being acrylic. If one wanted to buy any of these paints, they would have to sign a contract stating that they were not Anish Kapoor and didn't intend to give the paint to Kapoor.[25][26]

Nanolab, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based carbon nanotube manufacturer, partnered with Boston artist Jason Chase to release a nanotube-based black paint called Singularity Black.[27] 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.[28] contributor Jazia Hammoudi opined that the controversy had been manufactured by the media,[29] while the author of an article in Wired magazine suggested that the controversy between the artists and its online response was a spontaneous piece of collective performance art in itself.[23] 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.[30]

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.[31]

BMW unveiled a 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 [32]

Swiss, H. Moser & Cie have used this stealth technology in their watches.[33]

Commercial production[edit]

The first orders were delivered in July 2014.[13] In 2015, production was scaled up to satisfy the needs of buyers in the aerospace and defense sectors.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Safety Data Sheet Vantablack S-VIS and S-IR" (PDF). Surrey NanoSystems. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  2. ^ "CAS 7440-44-0". European Chemicals Agency. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  3. ^ Video showing both sides of aluminium foil
  4. ^ "Vantablack: U.K. Firm Shows Off 'World's Darkest Material'". 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  5. ^ Guinness World Records: Darkest manmade substance, 19 October 2015
  6. ^ Jackson, Jeremy J.; Puretzky, Alex A.; More, Karren L.; Rouleau, Christopher M.; Eres, Gyula; Geohegan, David B. (3 Dec 2010). "Pulsed Growth of Vertically Aligned Nanotube Arrays with Variable Density". Nano. 4 (12): 7573–7581. doi:10.1021/nn102029y. PMID 21128670.
  7. ^ a b "Vantablack, the world's darkest material, is unveiled by UK". South China Morning Post - World. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  8. ^ Kuittinen, Tero (14 July 2014). "Scientists have developed a black so deep it makes 3D objects look flat". Yahoo! News Canada. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  9. ^ Theocharous, E.; Deshpande, R.; Dillon, A. C.; Lehman, J. (2006). "Evaluation of a pyroelectric detector with a carbon multiwalled nanotube black coating in the infrared". Applied Optics. 45 (6): 1093. Bibcode:2006ApOpt..45.1093T. doi:10.1364/AO.45.001093.
  10. ^ Theocharous, S.P.; Theocharous, E.; Lehman, J.H. (2012). "The evaluation of the performance of two pyroelectric detectors with vertically aligned multi-walled carbon nanotube coatings". Infrared Physics & Technology. 55 (4): 299–305. Bibcode:2012InPhT..55..299T. doi:10.1016/j.infrared.2012.03.006.
  11. ^ "NanoLab multiwalled carbon nanotubes, aligned carbon nanotube arrays, nanoparticles, nanotube paper,dispersant, nanowires". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  12. ^ "Vantablack-S". SBIR. Santa Barbara Infrared Inc. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  13. ^ a b c Howard, Jacqueline (14 July 2014). "This May Be The World's Darkest Material Yet". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Vantablack – Trademark of Surrey NanoSystems Limited - Registration Number 4783953 - Serial Number 79156544 :: Justia Trademarks". Retrieved 2017-03-31.Surrey NanoSystems: Home
  15. ^ "Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for: Vantablack: 3 patents.". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "Vantablack S-IR". Surrey NanoSystems.
  17. ^ "Vantablack VBx Coatings". Surrey NanoSystems.
  18. ^ "Art Fight! The Pinkest Pink Versus the Blackest Black". Wired. 2017-06-22. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  19. ^ Frank, Priscilla (29 February 2016). "Anish Kapoor Angers Artists By Seizing Exclusive Rights To 'Blackest Black' Pigment". Huffington Post – via Huff Post.
  20. ^ "Some Artists Are Seeing Red Over A New 'Black'". Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  21. ^ Roisin O'Connor: Anish Kapoor gets his hands on 'pinkest pink' after being banned from use by its creator,, 27 December 2016
  22. ^ "*The World's Pinkest Pink - 50g powdered paint by Stuart Semple". Culture Hustle. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  23. ^ a b "Art Fight! The Pinkest Pink Versus the Blackest Black". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  24. ^ "Instagram post by Anish Kapoor • Dec 23, 2016 at 10:32am UTC". Instagram. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  25. ^ "Stuart Semple creates cherry-scented version of Anish Kapoor's Vantablack". Dezeen. 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  26. ^ "Anish Kapoor banned from using colour-changing paint in ongoing rights war". Dezeen. 2017-07-07. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  27. ^ "Meet Singularity Black, the Blackest Paint on the Market". Hyperallergic. 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  28. ^ "Nanolab releases own extremely black paint to rival Anish Kapoor's Vantablack". Dezeen. 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  29. ^ "Anish Kapoor, Vantablack And Manufactured Moral Outrage - Art Report". Art Report. 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  30. ^ "FAQs". Surrey NanoSystems. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  31. ^ "Asif Khan reveals super-dark Vantablack pavilion for Winter Olympics 2018". Dezeen. 7 February 2018.
  32. ^ Dorian, Drew. "BMW X6 Gets a Blackest of Black Treatment with Paint That Eats Light". Car and Driver. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  33. ^ H. Moser & Cie. Venturer Concept Vantablack: The Time-Telling Void[1][2]

External links[edit]