Vantablack paint


The blackest black paint has a name: Vantablack

We have all dreamed of making things invisible. And now, this might be possible! The special Vantablack paint from Surrey NanoSystems is the blackest black that exists today. And it holds the world record for the darkest existing man-made material. 

Of course the coating was originally developed for satellite-borne black body calibration; but its optical and physical characteristics allow use for other purposes as well. Would it not be awesome if you could have a watch coated with it? Or a 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 to buy it, prices and alternatives.

Vantablack paint vs normal black paint

This unique decorative coating consists of many tiny carbon nano tubes. A surface with carbon nano tubes absorbs 99.965% of the light spectrum visible to human eye.

In short:

Vantablack spray paint sample

Vantablack paint is so dark it does not reflect water drops.

The Vantablack paint is so dark that, when applied on a three dimensional object, it looks like the object almost becomes two dimensional. Normal black paint does not even come close!

The name “vanta” stands for Vertically Aligned NanoTube Array.

Take a look at the extraordinary properties of the coating:

  • Extremely high light absorbance
  • High front to back thermal conduction
  • Super hydrophobic: so 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, therefore suitable for space applications

Applying Vantablack on your car

Obviously it would be dangerous to paint a whole car with this and the Vantablack price is still sky high, but it would give a cool accent on interior design parts. In fact the company already had a few requests from high-end car manufacturers who want to use it in their dashboard displays car design.

The material was originally designed for a diverse range of applications including that are not subject to physical contact or abrasion. Ideally, it should be applied to surfaces that are protected, either within a packaged product, or behind a glass or other protective layer. This makes it unsuitable for completely coating cars. Any dirt kicked up from the road would leave scratches, touching the car would damage the surface, and long-term exposure to moisture would destroy it.

So we don’t expect a fully painted Vantablack car just yet.

But don’t worry:

Vantablack car paint might be a thing for the future. The paint could also be applied in more everyday objects if the conditions are right. Researchers are also constantly testing the paint on new substrates to discover new possibilities.

Own the first Vantablack Watch

Vantablack watch

Vantablack watch

Not one, but two brands presented the first watches with the blackest material ever made. One is Panerai, with its LAB-ID in which the dial is coated in Carbotech, and the other is the Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack by MCT Watches (Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps). Each watch in the 10-piece limited edition is signed by the artist who bought the licence to use the material: Anish Kapoor.

The MCT Sequential One S110 Evo Vantablack watch is referenced SQ 45 S110 VANTA 01. You can purchase it for £75,000 plus tax.

It looks like this:

The material is used on the dial lying below the display mechanism. The tip of the minute hand is also coated. This results in the illusion that the movement of the minute hand is suspended in mid-air, and the small moon forming the counterweight on the minute hand seems to disappear when it comes above the back-dial.

Hopefully it won’t be long before the material trickles down into other things we can wear. (And, more importantly, things we can afford.)

The only place to buy Vantablack Paint or a sample

Surrey NanoSystems Ltd (SNS) is the only manufacturer of Vantablack coatings, and at this time all sales (of both the paint and S-VIS spray) are handled directly by SNS in the United Kingdom. Under some circumstances Vantablack coated parts may require an export license from the UK Government.

Buy Vantablack sample

Vantablack sample for schools and museum

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.

Sample pricing:

  • Aluminum Coupon 40x40x3mm £300
  • Aluminum Foil 100x100mm £323
  • Copper Coupon 76.2×25.4mm £300
  • Educational Sample £560

Keep in mind that, for deliveries outside of the UK you need to fill in export license paperwork. This typically takes about 4 weeks to process.

Affordable alternatives that won’t break the bank

Notham (from SNS) said it himself: “I don’t think there’d be much on the planet that would be more expensive. Ounce for ounce, Vantablack is a lot more expensive than both diamond and gold.”

Luckily, if you are not in need of military grade perfection, there are some cheaper alternatives:

  • Deep black optical paint
  • Absorptive Polyurethane coating
  • Matt black spray paint or chalkboard paint
  • Black velvet

Good to know if you are thinking about purchasing or distributing

Companies need written permission from SNS to use the Vantablack name in their products. The coating is applied using a complex and capital intensive process at the SNS UK facility, and is not supplied as a bulk material for customers to apply (unless under licence for production applications). The main reason is this; The pigment is not sold by the paint bucket and secondly, it is unimaginably expensive.

Here’s the deal:

To make Vantablack, the nanotubes must be grown in the Surrey NanoSystems lab using a complicated (and patented) process involving several machines, a few layers of different substances, and extreme heat. From start to finish, applying Vantablack to an object can take up to two days time.

The bottom line:

Because of the complex process they normally work more closely with the clients in order to allow engagement within the design process. If you are seeking to act as a distributor for Vantablack, then this would probably be unsuitable.

If you were wanting to act as a manufacturer’s representative then it is possible to send SNS more information about your company, and your track record in this field.

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

There are so far two different types of the blackest paint. The original version is a direct application with vacuum deposition (like the one we mentioned above) whereas the newer invention Vantablack S-VIS can also be sprayed on the surface and afterwards processed further.

We know what you’re thinking…

But unfortunately, this does not mean it is available in a Vantablack spray can or in solution for people to apply themselves, as it requires complex post processing to achieve its high levels of light absorption.

Let’s explain:

Vantablack spray paintLike the original pigment, the spray is manufactured from carbon nanotubes but they are very short, and once chemically bound together they form an open coral-like structure that is highly efficient at trapping EM energy. The vantablack spray paint absorbs 9.8% of light, thus it reflects only 0.2% back from the surface. The main requirement regarding object size is that it fits a specially designed spraying booth. Another requirement regarding the application is that the substrate material must withstand temperatures higher than 100°C.

Vantablack S-VIS is not as dark as the original Vantablack, but in the visible spectrum it is very difficult to know which is which when viewed side-by-side.

Endless possibilities for the future

Vantablack clothing

Though it’s not suitable for clothing (yet), it is for accessories (like watches!)

Originally, the developers’ intention was to use Vantablack for strengthening components in the aerospace industry and coating components in other technological industries. The coating could be helpful in:

  • Wiring microchips
  • Touch screens
  • Ultralight wiring

Vanta black paint also reached the space and made its depute in 2015 on a European micro satellite. The super black coating was applied on the satellite’s star tracker and it improved the satellite’s ability to monitor its position to the stars by absorbing stray light that enters its sensors and would otherwise affect its accuracy.

And it doesn’t stop there:

The blackest substance ever, became so popular that everyone wants to use it. Now it is thus awakening interest among architects, artists and designers. Architects for example are looking forward to designing heat absorbing Vantablack surfaces where heat can be stored and released.

Moreover, artists cannot wait to get their hands on the paint for creating art making 3D look like 2D and blacker than ever. Also designers have similar interests combining for example a Vantablack vase, which appears in 2 dimensions, with a bouquet of flowers.

Applications are also possible in:

  • Camera lenses
  • Automotive industry (who knows, a vantablack car paint might hit the market!?)
  • Telescopes
  • Stray light suppression
  • Limited edition luxury products
  • And many more: possibilities are almost limitless!

Why it is not possible to coat everything yet

At this point, Vantablack is not yet applicable on fabric or other softer materials. The Vantablack carbon nano-tube growing process is mostly suitable for stable surface materials which have melting point 450°C or higher. However, Vantablack S-VIS, for its part, allows applications on materials with melting point at 100°C.

The fine carbon nano-tube structures of Vantablack and also Vantablack S-VIS require protection from direct contact and mechanical abrasion.

Therefore, for example Vantablack phone cases, cars or clothing items are not possible to coat yet. If you are interested in more background information watch this “An inside look” video (3:44).

See for yourself: Vantablack bust London Science Museum

Vantablack coating is now in public for everyone to see, or actually not to see. The coating is a real success in the exhibition of the Science Museum in London.

Want to know the best part?

In the museum a bust of Marty Jopson, the BBC’s One Show presenter, demonstrates the effects of the coating. The vantablack bust appears in two dimensions when looking from the front revealing only the shape. See for yourself the amazing properties of this coating in the short video below:

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

Surrey NanoSystems has broken its own record!

Vantablack was already know as the darkest material ever made. Now, it has gotten even darker. Whereas the original paint absorbs 99,965% of light, the new versions brightness and colour cannot be measured even with a spectrometer. The new Vantablack paint consists of thinner and longer carbon nano tubes than the original coating allowing greater light absorption and almost zero reflection.

See yourself how dark the material is and how it reacts on laser light:

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

    Dear 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,



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