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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Other names
  • Activated carbon high density skeleton
  • 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)
GHS labelling:
GHS07: Exclamation mark
H319, H335
P261, P281, P305+P351+P338
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
REL (Recommended)
<1 μg/m3 over an 8-hour TWA
Safety data sheet (SDS) CAS 308068-56-6
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Wrinkled aluminium foil with a portion—equally wrinkled—coated in Vantablack[3]

Vantablack is a class of super-black coatings with total hemispherical reflectances (THR) below 1%[4] in the visible spectrum. The name is a portmanteau of the acronym VANTA (vertically aligned nanotube arrays)[5] and black.

The original Vantablack coating was grown from a chemical vapour deposition process (CVD) and is claimed to be the "world's darkest material" absorbing up to 99.965% of visible light measured perpendicular to the material.[6][7] The coatings are unique in that they are super-black and retain uniform light absorption from almost all viewing angles. Original CVD Vantablack is no longer manufactured for commercial applications as it has been superseded by Vantablack spray coatings that offer similar optical performance in key parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.[8]


Ben Jensen, founder and CTO of Surrey NanoSystems, invented the coatings, which were publicly unveiled in July 2014,[9] and eventually commercialized by the scientific team from Surrey NanoSystems.

Early development occurred at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK;[10] the term "Vanta" was coined later in its development.[11] As a light-absorbing chemical, the name "VANTABLACK" is trademarked by Surrey NanoSystems Limited,[12] and is referenced in three patents registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[13]

Surrey NanoSystems coats customer parts at its site in the UK; it also supplies a paint for commercial application.[14] Several other firms also distribute vertically aligned nanotube arrays, including NanoLab,[15] Santa Barbara Infrared[16] and others.[17]

Commercial production[edit]

The first orders were delivered in July 2014.[17] In 2015, production was scaled up to meet demand in the aerospace and defense sectors.[citation needed]


Controversy arose when Surrey Nanosystems granted Anish Kapoor exclusive rights to use Vantablack in artistic applications.[18] Many artists voiced opposition to his monopoly over the substance.[19]

In response, Nanolab, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based carbon nanotube manufacturer, partnered with Boston artist Jason Chase to release a nanotube-based black paint called Singularity Black.[20] 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.[21][22]

Visual characteristics[edit]

As Vantablack is composed of carbon nanotubes that absorb exceptionally high levels of visible light, it is widely considered one of the darkest pigments created. When applied to three-dimensional objects, Vantablack produces the appearance of a two-dimensional surface or void space.[23]


Vantablack grown on metal foil

CVD Vantablack is composed of a forest of vertical carbon nanotubes "grown" on a substrate using a modified chemical vapor deposition process. When light strikes Vantablack, instead of bouncing off, it becomes trapped and continually deflected amongst the tubes, absorbed, and eventually dissipated as heat.[24]

CVD Vantablack was an improvement over similar substances developed at the time. Vantablack absorbs up to 99.965% 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), which required materials to be more heat resistant than Vantablack.[24] Darker materials are possible: in 2019, MIT engineers developed a CVD material which reflects a tenth of the amount of light that Vantablack reflects.[25]

The outgassing and particle fallout levels of Vantablack are low compared to similar substances, which makes it more commercially viable. Vantablack is resistant to mechanical vibration and exhibits thermal stability.[26]


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.[17] Surfaces coated with Vantablack are highly suitable for emitting and absorbing blackbody radiation. These coatings possess suitable durability, which enables them to perform well in diverse temperature ranges and environments such as vacuum and air applications. Consequently, using Vantablack coatings in optical configurations can enhance their overall performance.[27]

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.[28] Surrey NanoSystems also markets a line of non-nanotube sprayable paints known as Vantablack VBx that are even easier to apply.[29]

Vantablack has also sparked interest from the scientific community for use in cameras and sensors. Its distinctive characteristics make it a desirable material for cinema projectors, lenses, luxury products, and design items. Furthermore, its light-absorbing properties have the potential to improve the efficiency of solar panels and cells.[30]

Notable occurrences[edit]

BMW X6 Vantablack at the International Motor Show Germany 2019

Vantablack S-VIS, a sprayable paint that uses randomly aligned carbon nanotubes and very high levels of absorption from ultraviolet to the terahertz spectrum, has been exclusively licensed to Anish Kapoor's studio for artistic use.[31]

The manufacturer claims that Vantablack is subject to export controls by the UK.[citation needed] Due to its physical requirements and thermal characteristics, the original Vantablack is not practical for use in many types of art.[32]

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.[33]

In October 2018, to promote the release of their first-person shooter video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Activision partnered with Surrey NanoSystems to create the "Black Ops House", a small building in London painted entirely in Vantablack VBx2 where players could play the PlayStation 4 port of the game over the course of a two-day press event.[34][35]

In September 2019, BMW unveiled an X6 concept with Vantablack paint at the International Motor Show Germany; however, the company does not plan on producing the color on production models of the X6.[36]

French musician Gesaffelstein used Vantablack VBx2 as part of his stage decoration during his Coachella 2019 performance.[37][38]

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". YouTube.com. 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  4. ^ "About Vantablack | Surrey NanoSystems". www.surreynanosystems.com. Retrieved 2023-04-14.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Vantablack: U.K. Firm Shows Off 'World's Darkest Material'". NBCNews.com. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  7. ^ Guinness World Records: Darkest manmade substance, Guinness World Records 19 October 2015
  8. ^ "About | Surrey NanoSystems". www.surreynanosystems.com.
  9. ^ "Who's behind art's dark little secret, Vantablack?". British GQ. 2017-08-04. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  10. ^ 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): 1093–7. Bibcode:2006ApOpt..45.1093T. doi:10.1364/AO.45.001093. PMID 16523768.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "VantaBlack Trademark of Surrey NanoSystems Limited - Registration Number 4783953 - Serial Number 79156544 :: Justia Trademarks". trademarks.justia.com. Retrieved 2017-03-31.Surrey NanoSystems: Home
  13. ^ "Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for: Vantablack: 3 patents." Archived 2017-04-18 at the Wayback Machine. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  14. ^ "Purchasing". Surrey NanoSystems. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  15. ^ "NanoLab multiwalled carbon nanotubes, aligned carbon nanotube arrays, nanoparticles, nanotube paper,dispersant, nanowires". www.nano-lab.com. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  16. ^ "Vantablack-S". SBIR. Santa Barbara Infrared Inc. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  17. ^ a b c Howard, Jacqueline (14 July 2014). "This May Be The World's Darkest Material Yet". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  18. ^ Ball, Philip (May 2016). "None more black". Nature Materials. 15 (5): 500. doi:10.1038/nmat4633. ISSN 1476-4660. PMID 27113978.
  19. ^ "Artists Angered as Anish Kapoor Receives Exclusive Rights to Vantablack". www.artforum.com. 2016-02-28. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  20. ^ "Meet Singularity Black, the Blackest Paint on the Market". Hyperallergic. 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  21. ^ "Nanolab releases own extremely black paint to rival Anish Kapoor's Vantablack". Dezeen. 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  22. ^ "Art Fight! The Pinkest Pink Versus the Blackest Black". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  23. ^ Michael, Mike (November 2018). "On "Aesthetic Publics": The Case of VANTAblack®". Science, Technology, & Human Values. 43 (6): 1098–1121. doi:10.1177/0162243918775217. hdl:10871/32471. ISSN 0162-2439. S2CID 149662393.
  24. ^ a b "Vantablack, the world's darkest material, is unveiled by UK". South China Morning Post - World. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  25. ^ "MIT engineers develop "blackest black" material to date | MIT News". News.mit.edu. 2019-09-12. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Adams, Arnold; Nicol, Fred; McHugh, Steve; Moore, John; Matis, Gregory; Amparan, Gabriel A. (2019-05-14). "Vantablack properties in commercial thermal infrared imaging systems". In Krapels, Keith A.; Holst, Gerald C. (eds.). Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XXX. Vol. 11001. SPIE. pp. 329–339. Bibcode:2019SPIE11001E..0WA. doi:10.1117/12.2518768. ISBN 9781510626676. S2CID 181626834.
  28. ^ "Vantablack S-IR". Surrey NanoSystems. Archived from the original on 2019-07-20. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  29. ^ "Vantablack VBx Coatings". Surrey NanoSystems.
  30. ^ Berg, Klaas Jan van den; Bonaduce, Ilaria; Burnstock, Aviva; Ormsby, Bronwyn; Scharff, Mikkel; Carlyle, Leslie; Heydenreich, Gunnar; Keune, Katrien (2020-02-17). Conservation of Modern Oil Paintings. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-030-19254-9.
  31. ^ "Art Fight! The Pinkest Pink Versus the Blackest Black". Wired. 2017-06-22. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  32. ^ "FAQs". Surrey NanoSystems. Archived from the original on 2017-04-03. Retrieved 2017-03-31.
  33. ^ "Asif Khan reveals super-dark Vantablack pavilion for Winter Olympics 2018". Dezeen. 7 February 2018.
  34. ^ "Black Ops 4 | Surrey NanoSystems". www.surreynanosystems.com. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  35. ^ Kelly, Kevin (2018-10-09). "Playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in Total Blackout". blog.activision.com. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  36. ^ Dorian, Drew (4 September 2019). "BMW X6 Gets a Blackest of Black Treatment with Paint That Eats Light". Car and Driver. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Gesaffelstein". Surrey NanoSystems. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  38. ^ Deahl, Dani (2019-04-24). "How Gesaffelstein's Coachella set tricked minds with the world's blackest black". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-02-17.

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