Nanoparticle coating absorbs light like a black hole in outer space


Nanoparticle coating absorbs light like a black hole in outer space

Imagine a coating that consumes light, something so black it’s as if you are staring into a void of nothingness – like a black hole in outer space. This is the Vantablack effect. 

Vantablack is a nanoparticle coating that absorbs 99.965 per cent of light, making it the world’s darkest man-made substance. Staring at a three-dimensional object coated in Vantablack makes for a surreal experience as all detail is lost, making the object appear two-dimensional to the naked eye.

Consuming 99.965 per cent of light

The secret behind Vantablack’s ability to consume all but 0.035 per cent of light lies in the nanoparticle structure of the coating. In essence the super-black coating is made up of billions of tightly packed nanotubes; tall, tubular structures, composing of densely packed carbon atoms, each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. 

Super-black coating, Vantablack

Light rays are able to penetrate the surface but get trapped between the densely packed nanotubes and so never bounce back out. 

The applications

Originally used for satellites, the coating offers benefits to a wide range of applications, from astronomical cameras and telescopes, to military equipment and cars. Vantablack has also been applied to an art project by Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor. 

The coating process

Surrey Nanosystems, who developed the coating, were aware of NASA having some success creating a similar coating, however the problem with NASA’s coating was that it couldn’t be successfully applied to a substrate at less that 700C – a heat that destroys most metals and plastics. 

Vantablack however can be applied at temperatures as low as 450C using chemical vapour deposition (CVD), and 100C for the Vantablack S-VIS spray version. This means the coating is able to be applied to materials such as silicon microchips, quartz, copper and aluminium.

Like many coatings we apply at Surface Technology, Vantablack was developed for a specific application, however the final coating has a potential far greater than what it was originally developed for.

For anyone involved in the development, design, engineering, and manufacture of products and technology, surface coatings offer a plethora of options to improve performance, longevity, reliability and aesthetics. At Surface Technology we offer unrivalled technical support to help companies navigate the complexities of coating and plating solutions. 

Do you design, develop or manufacture? Speak to us and discover what our coating and plating services have to offer you.


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