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Brief Published: 4 Apr 2016

Vantablack S-VIS: Super-Black Spray Coating

Vantablack: The world's darkest coating material

Vantablack, the world’s blackest coating material, has been developed into a spray-on version, called Vantablack S-VIS. The new spray will widen its possible applications and make it more readily available for creative and licensed commercial use.

The original Vantablack pigment is said to be the blackest shade ever created. Developed in 2014 by British company Surrey NanoSystems, it is composed of an extraordinarily dense carpet of microscopic vertical carbon nanotubes. When light hits its surface, 99.96% of light becomes trapped instead of bouncing off and is continually deflected between the tubes. The human eye technically sees it as a complete absence of light. 

Although it was initially created for military and astronomical use (for instance, to protect the sensitive optics on satellites from light interference), British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor holds exclusive rights to the pigment, causing much controversy in the art world. Unilever brand Lynx applied Vantablack to a one-off edition of its Lynx Black spray for a marketing campaign in July 2015 – it is the only consumer product to be manufactured with the material. 

The innovative Vantablack S-VIS spray will be easier to apply than the original and can be used on larger, more complex objects made from a wider variety of materials. The spray will have multiple applications from optics and cameras, to heat shields and finishes for luxury goods. Its unique aesthetic appearance will be significant for commercial products.

Currently, Surrey NanoSystems applies Vantablack S-VIS for clients as a service, but it says the process could be licensed to manufacturing lines.

For extensive coverage of black as an elemental colour for all creatives, see Into The Black. For the latest visual report on colour, material and finishes in monochrome, and its applications from the catwalk to architecture, see Rethinking Black & White.