How black would you like that? Nanomaterial sets records

March 15, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Nanotechnology company Surrey NanoSystems (Brighton, UK) has developed a spray-able version of its Vantablack material, which it believes to be the “blackest” material available; that is, it is the most complete light abosrber across the entire visible spectrum.

With application areas that the company expects to include sensors, cameras, and luxury goods the material, now in spray-paint form, has a nanomaterial structure that absorbs virtually all incident light, and was created to optimise the performance of precision optical systems. Prior to the paint formulation, the material had to be grown using a chemical vapour deposition (CVD) process.


Called Vantablack S-VIS, the new nanomaterial spray paint greatly widens the applications potential, making it possible to coat much larger and more complex shapes and structures, as well as many new materials including engineering polymers. Even though the material is applied using a simple spraying process, it traps 99.8% of incident light hitting its surface.


Its technical specifications include

• THR (total hemispherical reflectance) 0.2% at 700 nm and 0.17% at 1064 nm (near-infrared spectrum)

• Performs across a wide spectrum from ultraviolet (UV) to near infrared (NIR)

• Shock and vibration resistance to MIL-810G

• Thermal shock and cycling from -196 to +300C

• Super-hydrophobic

• High performance at extreme viewing angles >70° (TIS - 0.6% at 70° VIS)

A surface coated with Vantablack S-VIS looks very odd to the human eye, often described by observers as appearing like a two-dimensional gap or 'black hole'. The only other commercially available material in the world that is darker is original Vantablack - which set a new world record for blackness when it was launched as it traps 99.965% of incident light in the visible spectrum.


Vantablack was originally developed for aerospace engineering applications, such as satellite-based optics like star trackers and earth observation imaging and calibration systems. It increases the sensitivity of these optical systems by improving the absorption of stray ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.


Since then, many other applications have emerged and now include collector elements in solar energy systems, architecture, cinematography, coating optical elements in high performance cameras, spectroscopy instrumentation, cold shields, improving the