|Appearance||Solid black coating|
|Melting point||>3,000 °C (5,430 °F; 3,270 K)|
|Safety data sheet||CAS 308068-56-6|
|GHS Signal word||Warning|
|P261, P305+351+338, P281|
|NIOSH (US health exposure limits):|
|<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).
Vantablack is a brand name for a class of super-black coatings with total hemispherical reflectances (THR) below 1.5% in the visible spectrum. The original Vantablack coating was grown from a chemical vapour deposition process (CVD) developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is one of the darkest coatings known, absorbing up to 99.965% of visible light (at 663 nm if the light is perpendicular to the material). The coatings are unique in that they are not only super-black but that they 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 Original CVD Vantablack is no longer manufactured for commercial applications as it has been superseded by Vantablack spray coatings that offer similar optical performance in key parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
CVD 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.
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), so it required materials to be more heat resistant than Vantablack. Darker materials are possible: in 2019, MIT engineers developed a CVD material which reflects a tenth of the amount of light that Vantablack reflects.
The outgassing and particle fallout levels of Vantablack are low compared to similar substances, which makes it more commercially viable. Vantablack also has greater resistance to mechanical vibration, and has greater thermal stability.
Early development was carried out at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK; the term "Vanta" was coined some time later. Vertically aligned nanotube arrays are sold by several firms, including NanoLab, Santa Barbara Infrared and others.
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.
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.
Artistic and decorative use
Vantablack S-VIS, a sprayable paint that uses randomly-aligned carbon nanotubes and very high levels of absorption from ultraviolet to the terahertz spectrum, and 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.
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- Surrey NanoSystems YouTube
- Anthony, Sebastian (July 14, 2014). "It's like staring 'into a black hole': World's darkest material will be used to make very stealthy aircraft, better telescopes". Extremetech.
Even when you bend or crumple the Vantablack, the material — or rather, the dark nothingness created by the material — [still] looks completely flat