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Vantablack paint


The blackest black has a name: Vantablack paint

We have all dreamed of making things invisible. And now, this might be possible! The special Vantablack paint from Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom is the blackest black that exists today. It is so black it holds the Guinness World Record for the Darkest Man-made Substance. The name “Vanta” stands for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Array.

The coating was originally developed for satellite-borne black body calibration systems; but with such exciting optical and physical characteristics, it was quickly applied to many other uses. Imagine a Vantablack watch, or a Vantablack car! This might be possible in the future.

In this article we will discuss the properties of this amazing innovation and answer the question that is on everyone’s lips; where do I find it?

Vantablack paint vs normal black paint

The secret of Vantablack’s blackness is that it consists of a forest of tiny carbon nanotubes which are “grown”on a substrate while in a vacuum chamber. When you coat a surface with this special paint, the carbon nanotubes absorb 99.965% of all visible light (as well as invisible light such as ultraviolet and infrared ).

Vantablack paint sample

Vantablack paint is so dark because it only reflects 0.035% of light.

In short: Vantablack paint is so black that, when used to a coat a bowl, all the eye can see is a flat black circle. Normal black paint does not even come close!

Some of the extraordinary properties of the coating include:

  • Extremely high light absorbance
  • High front to back thermal conduction
  • Super hydrophobic: water has no effect on the optics
  • Thermal shock resistance: fast transfer from -196°C to 300°C has no impact on the coating’s properties.
  • High shock and vibration resistance

Applying Vantablack paint to your car

While it would obviously be hugely dangerous to paint a whole car with Vantablack (imagine a Vantablack car at night), not to mention expensive, using the coating to highlight interior designs or accents could be incredibly effective. Imagine the instrumentation of your dashboard with the blackest black background, the displays the only source of light.

The material was originally designed for use in a diverse range of applications, from infrared cameras to scientific instruments. Ideally, it should be applied to surfaces that are protected, either within a packaged product or behind a protective layer. The unique structure makes it particularly susceptible to direct impacts or abrasions, so particularly unsuited to coating a car. Unless, that is, you never want the car to leave the garage. So don’t expect a Vantablack car just yet.

But don’t worry: Vantablack paint for your car might be a thing for the future. Researchers are constantly testing the substance on new substrates to discover new possibilities. In the future, everything could be Vantablack.

Own the first watch with Vantablack paint

Vantablack paint on a watch

The classy Vantablack watch

While the expense of the blackest black currently prices out most of the market, luxury items have already adopted this cool new substance. Swiss watchmaker  MCT (Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps) in partnership with Anish Kapoor (the exclusive owner of artistic rights to the use of Vantablack) have brought out the Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack in an edition so limited they only made ten. This kind of cutting edge style does not come cheap, you can purchase the Sequential One for a mere £75,000, plus tax.

Each watch uses the substance to coat the inside of the case, giving the illusion that the dials are floating in a black hole. The tip of the second hand is also coated, and as it rotates over the black of the casing you can watch as it seems to entirely disappear.

With the high public interest and demand for Vantablack paint it won’t be long before we start seeing (or not seeing) the substance being applied to more and more products.

The only place to buy Vantablack Paint or a sample

At this time Surrey NanoSystems (SNS), the creators of Vantablack paint, control all manufacture and distribution of the coating, and they do not sell to private individuals. They do, however, sell their product to verified companies, research facilities and educational institutions. If you work at a university or museum, you can purchase a sample for educational purposes. The sample consists of a ‘crinkled foil’ display unit that demonstrates to viewers the unique properties of the coating.

Vantablack paint sample for classrooms and museums

Vantablack sample for schools and museums

Sample pricing:

  • Aluminium Coupon 40mm x 40mm x 3mm – £300
  • Aluminium Foil Vantablack hexagon 100mm x 100mm – £323
  • Copper Coupon 76.2 x 25.4mm – £300
  • Educational Sample – £560

The high intensity process that is used to make Vantablack paint means even a small amount may be enough to break the bank. If you were hoping to purchase it for use in large applications, perhaps a cheaper alternative would be preferable. Why not try deep black optical paint, absorptive polyurethane coating or even matte black spray paint or chalkboard paint? They may not be as black, but they also do come for the Vantablack price.

Also keep in mind that Vantablack customers outside the UK may need to apply for a UK Government export license. This typically takes about 4 weeks to process.

Good to know if you are thinking about purchasing or distributing Vantablack paint

The reason Vantablack is so prohibitively expensive is simple. It is not a colour, and cannot be bought in a bucket like paint. The blackest black is in fact the result of up to two days of different complicated processes (including extreme heat) which result in the growth of the nanotubes which give Vantablack its light-absorbing properties. The coating must be grown on the substrate, and this procedure is only done in the Surrey Nanosystems lab in the United Kingdom.

The bottom line:

If you are seeking to act as a distributor for Vantablack, you might want to think again. However, they are open to applications for the use of their product across many fields. Anyone hoping to use Vantablack in a project should contact Surrey NanoSystems, as they work closely with clients in order to secure the best outcome for all. If you wish to act as a manufacturer’s representative then it is possible to send Surrey NanoSystems more information about your company, and your background in your field.

Vantablack paint’s little sister: The blackest spray paint in the world

There are two different methods for creating the blackest black. The first is the one discussed above, with nanotube forests being grown on a substrate while in a vacuum chamber.  The new addition is Vantablack S-VIS, the second blackest black, which can be applied to substrates using a spray can. A Vantablack spray paint!

We know what you’re thinking…

Unfortunately, Vantablack S-VIS will not be in an art store any time soon. Like its big brother, S-VIS requires complex vacuum and heat treatment procedures after application to make it work.

Let’s explain:

Vantablack paint now comes as Vantablack spray paint

Vantablack spray paint

Like the original coating, the Vantablack spray paint is manufactured using carbon nanotubes. Unlike the original, these nanotubes are not aligned, and form an open coral-like structure that is highly efficient at trapping light. Once treated with the necessary vacuum and heat procedures, the S-VIS spray absorbs 99.8% of light, only reflecting 0.2% of the visible spectrum back from the surface.

Spray application opens up many possibilities for Vantablack; all that is required is that the substrate can withstand temperatures of 100-280°C.


Endless possibilities for the future of Vantablack paint

Vantablack clothing

Though it’s not suitable for clothing yet, one day we may get the little blackest dress!

While Vantablack was originally designed for use in space-borne instrumentation, its shock resistance, thermal tolerance and light absorbing properties quickly found many applications across science and technology. In the future the coating may be found in:

  • Wiring microchips
  • Smartphones
  • Architectural lighting

Vantablack paint actually made its space debut aboard the Kent Ridge 1, a low earth orbit microsatellite which was launched in 2015.  The super black coating was used on the satellite’s ‘star tracker’, instrumentation that uses a map of the stars to provide an accurate position reference for the satellite. Using Vantablack improved the star tracker’s accuracy by absorbing stray light entering its sensors, giving it more accurate data from which to work.

And it doesn’t stop there:

The blackest black caused something of a frenzy amongst artists, designers, and all within those fields. Architects, for example, are looking forward to using Vantablack and its heat absorbing properties for building surfaces where heat can be stored and released.

It should be no surprise artists and designers cannot wait to play with the eye-fooling substance. The ability to make the three-dimensional appear as flat as paper could have any number of mind-bending uses, imagine a Vantablack vase holding a vibrant bouquet of flowers!

Applications are also possible in:

  • Camera lenses
  • Automotive industry (who knows, a Vantablack car paint might hit the market!?)
  • Telescopes
  • Use in the cinema for a clearer, sharper, darker viewing experience
  • And many more: possibilities are almost limitless!

Why it is not possible to coat everything in Vantablack paint yet

At this point, Vantablack is not yet applicable on fabric or other softer materials. The carbon nanotube growing process is suitable for stable substrates which can endure heats of 500°C or higher. Even the spray-on S-VIS requires the ability to withstand heats of 100-280°C, though its application method makes it more widely usable. The miniscule carbon nanotube structures of Vantablack and Vantablack S-VIS require protection from direct contact and mechanical abrasion.

To achieve the dream of a Vantablack-tinted world, we need to make everyday items less melt-able or the blackest black more hardy. Science, now it’s up to you.  If you are interested in more background information, here is “An Inside Look” video (3:44).


It gets better: The improved version of Vantablack paint is even darker than the original

In 2016 Surrey NanoSystems improved upon its own record-breaking black to create even-blacker-than-black. Vantablack Mark II was born.

Where the original absorbs a measly 99,965% of light, the new version is so black its brightness and colour cannot be measured, not even with a spectrometer. The new Vantablack consists of thinner and longer carbon nanotubes than the original coating, allowing greater light absorption and almost zero reflection.

Here is a video of the new improved Vantablack’s absorption being tested with lasers. Spoiler alert – the Vantablack wins:

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10 replies
  1. N-Chow
    N-Chow says:

    Dear Coating.co.uk Team, could you provide me any extra info on where I could buy this? ‘ if ‘ it ever would be for sale? And at what kind of price would I have to think?

  2. Coating Expert
    Coating Expert says:

    Dear N-Chow,

    Thank you for your question about Vantablack.

    Surrey NanoSystems Ltd (SNS) is the only manufacturer of Vantablack coatings, and at this time all sales are handled directly by SNS in the United Kingdom (near Brighton). Keep in mind that the original Vantablack paint is incredibly expensive right now and not sold by the paint bucket.

    Just like you we hope it will be available for individual sale soon! But we are still in “the dark” on when, and what the price point will be.

    With kind regards,


  3. Matthias
    Matthias says:

    Hello, I am from Germany and am interested in Vantablack. I hope my english is sufficient for the discussion.

    Since Vantablack reflects about 0.035% of the light, are the contours of objects perceived?

    For example, the aluminum foil was painted with Vantablack. This aluminum foil was crumpled. Are then these edges or height differences visible?

    I hope it’s understandable what I’m trying to ask.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Coating Expert
      Coating Expert says:

      Hi Matthias,

      Thank you for your question about Vantablack paint.
      As the amount of light reflected by Vantablack-coated objects is minimal, even three-dimensional parts appear flat (2D). Thus, in the case of the crumpled aluminium foil, Vantablack makes it look flat as paper, and the surface seems smooth; hence the edges and height differences are not visible to the human eye on the foil surface.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.uk

    • Coating Expert
      Coating Expert says:

      Dear Ronan,
      Thank you for your question about Vantablack. Unfortunately, Vantablack and its associated coatings Vantablack S-VIS, VBx1, and VBx2 are not available for private consumer purchase and application. Vantablack is applied using a complex and intensive process in the Surrey NanoSystems UK facility, and is not supplied as a bulk material for customers.
      We can only hope these coatings will be available to the public in the future!

      Best regards,

  4. David Brindle
    David Brindle says:

    If it can withstand powder coating it can take Vantablack, yes? Imagine a motorbike with a Vantablack frame, the engine and tank would appear to be floating along the road! 😁

    • Coating Expert
      Coating Expert says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your question about Vantablack paint. Vantablack is suitable for a wide range of substrates, yet its fragile structure only allows applications on substrates which are protected either within a packaged product or behind a protective layer. Therefore, a motorbike Vantablack frame is not yet realistic; however, the substance is constantly being tested on new substrates to discover future possibilities such as Vantablack paint for cars and other vehicles.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.uk

  5. Luis
    Luis says:

    hi, i wanted to know if there was a chance to buy vantablack, or to have a sample, of course i would pay the sample and all the expenses os the shiping. I am a plastic artist and I am very interested in being able to make a work with its pigment. I leave my grandsons e-mail, thank you very much

    • Coating Expert
      Coating Expert says:

      Dear Luis,

      Thank you for your question about Vantablack coating. We will send you an email to further inform you about the possibilities.

      Best regards,
      Jasmin – Coating.co.uk


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