None more black: UK engineers create world’s darkest material
A radiation-absorbing material developed for space-based applications is finding new applications closer to home.
Vantablack, a so-called ‘super black’ coating from Surrey Nanosystems, combines exceptionally low mass, thermal stability and an ability to absorb 99.96 per cent of incident radiation. Consequently, the coating is suited to applications including apertures, baffles, cold shields and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS)–type optical sensors.
The material also overcomes limitations encountered in the manufacture of super-black carbon nanotube-based materials, where high temperatures precluded direct application to sensitive electronics or materials with relatively low melting points. This, along with poor adhesion, prevented their application to space and airborne instrumentation.

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Vantablack has the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications. It has virtually undetectable levels of outgassing and particle fallout, thus eliminating a key source of contamination in sensitive imaging systems. It withstands launch shock, staging and long-term vibration, and is suitable for coating internal components, such as apertures, baffles, cold shields and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) –type optical sensors.

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