Henry Ford boasted that customers of his Model T could have the automobile in any color, as long as it is black. As it turns out, there are a lot more options within that single color than one might expect. The most extreme, Vantablack, would make your Model T look like a car-shaped hole in the road.
Vantablack is not a color. It is actually a technology developed by the National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom and owned by Surrey NanoSystems, Ltd. The technology consists of countless vertical nanotubes that distribute and absorb almost all light that meets their surface. Each nanotube is about 50,000 smaller than the width of a human hair. The result is the blackest artificial substance known. It absorbs up to 99.965% of visible light, giving viewers the impression of seeing a black hole in midair.
The sight can be truly unnerving.
You can’t rush out and have your car or even your bike covered in Vantablack quite yet. The process of applying it to a surface is very complicated and can take up to two days. Secondly, it is very expensive. It would be cheaper to have your car plated in gold.
Originally designed for NASA, Vantablack was intended to minimize stray light in telescopes. Much to the engineers’ delight, however, they learned they were surprised that the substance is quite resilient against shock and vibration. It is also 200 times stronger than steel. Consequently, Vantablack has found additional functionality in coating internal components on the International Space Station.
Manufacturers of luxury timepieces, smartphones, and motor vehicles are all exploring possible uses of Vantablack in their products.