'Super black' material absorbs 99.96% of light

UK scientists have produced a pure coating of carbon capable of absorbing 99.96% of light – the highest figure ever recorded.

Called Vantablack, the 'super balck' material was created by a team from Surrey NanoSystems using a low temperature carbon nanotube growth process, employing photothermal chemical vapor deposition (CVD).

It is intended for high-emmissivity applications – those that require materials that are highly competent in radiating energy.

The company claims Vantablack has both the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material suitable for such applications.

It is also capable of withstanding long term vibration and launch shock, so likely to be used to coat internal components in both aircraft and spacecraft. Turbine blades coated in the material were recently displayed at the Farnborough Airshow.

Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer of Surrey NanoSystems, said: "Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation.

"For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems."

Vantablack was created in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory and the ABSL Space Products division of Enersys as part of the UK Technology Strategy Board's Space for Growth programme.

The company is already scaling up production to meet the requirements of its first customers in the defence and space sectors.

Laura Hopperton

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