Let's all try to imagine what the blackest possible black might look like. Like Batman's suit? Like the unlit depths of a coal mine? Like swimming at the bottom of a cup of espresso? According to Surrey Nanosystems, it looks like Vantablack, a special coating the company describes as "the world's blackest material."
We first heard about Vantablack in 2014 when it was unveiled with the intention of using it to coat optical components for space and defense industries. But Vantablack wasn't content to be filed away in a box. Surrey Nanosystems said last week that the material is now available in a spray form.
Sprayable Vantablack is known as Vantablack S-VIS. The convenient application method means it could be used for commercial cameras, art projects, jewelry or luxury items. Vantablack S-VIS doesn't hold up well to abrasion and needs to have some sort of protection over it, so don't expect a Vantablack-painted Batmobile anytime soon.
Vantablack is made from carbon nanotubes and results in ultra-low reflectivity of light. "It is, for example, some 17 times less reflective than the super-black paint used for minimizing stray light in the Hubble space telescope," Surrey Nanosystems notes in a statement.
There are those of us who would love to pop down to the local hardware store and buy a can of Vantablack spray, but that's not how it works. The UK company uses a proprietary multistep process to apply the spray. Anything you want coated will need to be sent to Surrey Nanosystems.
The wider availability of Vantablack is bound to spark some imaginations. Perhaps fictional rock band Spinal Tap will reissue its infamous black album "Smell the Glove" in a special Vantablack edition.