7 Facts About Vantablack

Vantablack cover

Ever looked at an image of a black hole and thought, I sure would like to have that void in my life? Well, you might be in luck. Though the properties like bending space-time are off the table you can still create an illusion of a void with a material called Vantablack. When it was produced back in 2019, it created a sensation over the internet and even a trend to create darker materials than Vantablack that still continues. But exactly is Vantablack?

What is Vantablack?

Blackest black structure

A forest of nano-carbon tubes as seen from a microscope.

Well, Vantablack is actually a brand name short for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array-black, given to a black coating paint material created by Surrey Nanosystems. Color as we know it is basically a series of reflections and refractions that are observed by our eyes. As the name suggests, nanocarbon tubes made by graphene are arranged in a fashion that confuses the photons of light, as photons can enter but there’s no way to reflect off and a minuscule amount of light leaves the surface resulting in this pitch-black coating.

Interesting facts about Vantablack

Holding VB

A scientist holding a metal sheet with a Vantablack hexagonal coating.

1. It’s mainly comprised of Graphene, a single atomic layer of graphite. This gives it properties that are unparalleled with any other light-absorbing material, being lightweight with high tensile strength, but it wasn’t created this way. Originally it was created for an eyebrow-raising idea of space elevators. Back in 2009, scientists and NASA wanted to build an elevator leading to space stations orbiting the Earth and even announced to reward $4 Million to anyone who does it.

2. Nano-carbon tubes after failing to be used for delusional space elevators were and are still used in transistors. Fewer of these tubes are required as a channel material compared to bulk silicon. It was originally discovered by a Japanese physicist, Sumio Iijima in 1991.

3. Scientists at Surrey Nanosystems were trying to create a coating for raw aluminum to prevent it from oxidizing. As oxidization interferes with the thermal and electric conductivity of aluminum. Once their experiment was done they noticed it turned into a material that created a phenomenon.

4. Originally, Vantablack coating’s application was to be used in satellite-borne calibration instruments. However, being a new technology and lack of high-production measures, the company created a new form of Vantablack that can be sprayed onto the subject.

5. Another impressive thing about Vantablack is that it is not like traditional paint, it is superhydrophobic, meaning it dislikes moisture and repels the water that comes in its contact. Therefore, it is protected against humidity and doesn’t lose its light-absorption properties with time.

6. Given it is made of tiny tubes, it is natural to think it would be easily destroyed under heat or frost. But it can withstand up to 200°C of hot temperatures and as low as temperatures as -196°C tested with liquid nitrogen.

7. Although it can withstand extreme temperatures, it is still delicate. Touching it directly can cause damage to the surface and disrupt its properties while general vibrations up to a certain degree without direct contact don’t affect its structure.

Although Vantablack has been surpassed by other materials, it is still synonymous with the darkest man-made material. It is these kinds of experiments and innovations that surprise the entire world. Who knows maybe in the future we’ll have a 100% light-absorbing substance.


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