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Aluminum foil with a portion coated in Vantablack.

Vantablack is a substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays[1] and is one of the darkest artificial substances[2] known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.[3][4]



The name comes from the term "Vertically Aligned NanoTube Arrays".[5]


Vantablack grown on metal foil.

Vantablack is composed of a forest of vertical tubes which are "grown" on a substrate using a modified chemical vapor deposition process (CVD). When light strikes Vantablack, instead of bouncing off, it becomes trapped and is continually deflected among the tubes, eventually becoming absorbed and dissipating into heat.[1]

Vantablack was an improvement over similar substances developed at the time. Vantablack absorbs 99.965% of visible light. It can be created at 400 °C (752 °F); NASA had previously developed a similar substance, but that can only be grown at 750 °C (1,380 °F). For this reason, Vantablack can be grown on materials that cannot withstand higher temperatures.[1]

The outgassing and particle fallout levels of Vantablack are low. The high levels in similar substances in the past had prevented their commercial usefulness. Vantablack also has greater resistance to mechanical vibration, and has greater thermal stability.[6]


Early development was carried out at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK,[7] although the term "Vanta" wasn't coined until sometime later.[8] Vertically aligned nanotube arrays are being sold by several firms, including NanoLab,[9] Santa Barbara Infrared[10] and others. [11]

The Vantablack name is trademarked by Surrey NanoSystems Limited [12] and has been referenced in three patents registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[13]


Being the blackest 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,[11] Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer, Surrey NanoSystems, has explained: "For example, it reduces stray light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars... Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation."[11]

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. The emissivity of Vantablack and scalability support a wide range of applications.

The material is being used by artist Anish Kapoor who said, "It's effectively like a paint... Imagine a space that's so dark that as you walk in you lose all sense of where you are, what you are, and especially all sense of time."[14][15]

Ownership controversyEdit

The colour was exclusively licensed to Kapoor's studio for artistic use, causing outrage among some other artists such as Christian Furr and Stuart Semple.[16][17] During a talk at the Denver Art Museum, Semple casually responded that his release of an ultra-fluorescent pink he had developed would not be allowed to be purchased by Kapoor. He later released a strong shade of pink with a non-binding disclaimer that Anish Kapoor was not allowed to purchase.[18][19] He later stated that the move was itself like performance art and that he did not anticipate the amount of attention it received.[20] In December 2016, Kapoor posted an Instagram post of his middle finger dipped in Semple's pink.[21] Semple has also produced a colour-changing paint and cherry-scented deep black coloured paint that Kapoor is barred from purchasing in a similar fashion.[22][23] The company Nanolab partnered with Boston artist Jason Chase and released a colour called Singularity Black, with ongoing research and development efforts directed towards the arts community.[24] During the first showing of the colour, Chase alluded to Vantablack and stated that it was stunted because of the unavailability to other artists, and Singularity Black's release was important to create access.[25]

Some speculate the controversy had been manufactured by the media for increased viewership,[26] while others suggest the controversy between the artists and the online response is a spontaneous collective performance art in itself.[20] The manufacturer has explained that Vantablack is also subject to export controls by the UK, and due to its temperature and physical requirements is not practical for use in many types of art.[27]

Commercial productionEdit

In 2015, production was scaled up to satisfy the needs of buyers in the aerospace and defense sectors. The first orders were delivered in July 2014.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Vantablack, the world's darkest material, is unveiled by UK". South China Morning Post - World. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Ao, Bethany (4 August 2017). "Waltham lab develops the world’s ‘blackest black’ paint". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Vantablack: U.K. Firm Shows Off 'World's Darkest Material'". 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Guinness World Records: Darkest manmade substance, 19 October 2015
  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. American Chemical Society (ACS): 7573–7581. doi:10.1021/nn102029y. Retrieved 9 Oct 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Theocharous, E.; Deshpande, R.; Dillon, A. C.; Lehman, J. "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. 
  8. ^ Theocharous, S.P.; Theocharous, E.; Lehman, J.H. "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. 
  9. ^ "NanoLab multiwalled carbon nanotubes, aligned carbon nanotube arrays, nanoparticles, nanotube paper,dispersant, nanowires". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  10. ^ "Home | SBIR | Santa Barbara Infrared Inc.". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  11. ^ a b c d Howard, Jacqueline (14 July 2014). "This May Be The World's Darkest Material Yet". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "VANTABLACK Trademark of Surrey NanoSystems Limited - Registration Number 4783953 - Serial Number 79156544 :: Justia Trademarks". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  13. ^ "Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for: Vantablack: 3 patents.". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  14. ^ "How black can black be?". BBC News. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Artists at war after top sculptor is given exclusive rights to the purest black paint ever which is used on stealth jets". Daily Mail Online. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Frank, Priscilla (29 February 2016). "Anish Kapoor Angers Artists By Seizing Exclusive Rights To 'Blackest Black' Pigment" – via Huff Post. 
  17. ^ "Some Artists Are Seeing Red Over A New 'Black'". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  18. ^ Roisin O'Connor: Anish Kapoor gets his hands on 'pinkest pink' after being banned from use by its creator,, 27 December 2016
  19. ^ "*THE WORLD'S PINKEST PINK - 50g powdered paint by Stuart Semple". Culture Hustle. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  20. ^ a b "Art Fight! The Pinkest Pink Versus the Blackest Black". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  21. ^ "Instagram post by Anish Kapoor • Dec 23, 2016 at 10:32am UTC". Instagram. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  22. ^ "Stuart Semple creates cherry-scented version of Anish Kapoor's Vantablack". Dezeen. 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  23. ^ "Anish Kapoor banned from using colour-changing paint in ongoing rights war". Dezeen. 2017-07-07. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  24. ^ "Meet Singularity Black, the Blackest Paint on the Market". Hyperallergic. 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  25. ^ "Nanolab releases own extremely black paint to rival Anish Kapoor's Vantablack". Dezeen. 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  26. ^ "Anish Kapoor, Vantablack And Manufactured Moral Outrage - Art Report". Art Report. 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  27. ^ "FAQs | Surrey NanoSystems". Retrieved 2017-03-31. 

External linksEdit