The Darkest Material on the Planet Absorbs 99.96% of Light that Touches it; How Would You Use It?


The possibilities for photography are endless. That’s the thought that crossed our minds earlier today when we stumbled across Vantablack, the new ‘darkest material on the planet.’

Created by UK-based Surrey NanoSystems, this nanotube material is designed to reflect back as little radiation as possible… and it’s darn good at its job. According to Surrey, the material absorbs 99.96% of all the light that touches it.

This means that staring at a piece of Vantablack is, quite literally, as close to staring into a black hole as you could get on Earth. The question now becomes, how do you imagine photographers and camera gear companies putting this stuff to work?


One of the things that makes this so special is that it can be manufactured at low-temperatures, meaning it can be applied directly to sensitive electronics.

And while Surrey talks of using this stuff in high-end telescopes and for certain military purposes, when the price eventually comes down, we could definitely see this making an appearance in the world of photography.

We could speculate amongst ourselves, but that’s no fun, so drop your suggestions in the comments down below and let’s see if we can give the big guys’ R&D departments something to put on their ToDo lists.

(via Engadget)

Image credits: Vantablack photograph by Surrey NanoSystems, telescope photo by the European Southern Observatory (ESO)

  • Gary Richardson

    An IR detector could become more sensitive by surrounding a CCD or CMOS tuned to those frequencies. Especially if this material has highly thermal conductive properties.

  • Jay Rider


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  • Edac2

    There was a great YouTube video of an odd UFO in South America a year or so ago that was so black that you couldn’t see any details other than the craft’s overall shape. They said at the time that it was the darkest black ever photographed. My guess is that it might have been a stealth UAV testing a prototype of this new paint. I can’t find the video now.

  • Triston Wyatt Armstrong

    If they could make it into a cloth some how… Make a morph suit.. that’d be amazing

  • Daniel S

    This coating would be great on internal components that deal with light (inside lens, mirror box, prism/viewfinder) and some external parts (lens hood). The problem might arise with sensor cleaning. Since no light is bouncing back, you won’t be able to see the edges of the box. It’ll look like the sensor is floating in the middle of a black circle.

  • Daniel S

    Also, “true black” backgrounds and flags would be very useful in tight spaces, allowing lights to be closer without affecting the background.

  • Mike

    A dark black blob is invisible? It’ll stand out like a sore thumb.

  • Jono Seneff

    You could create a flag/cutter that would give you the most expensive negative fill of all time.

  • David Guerra

    But the thing is, it can still catch dust, thus making surfaces become visible. Otherwise, the effect should be similar to applying a black photo-editing-software-brush to reality. You could literally have a bunch of coated objects on a coated couch and see nothing but the outline of the whole group.

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  • Eric__

    Mix in some gum arabic and use it as the gelatin pigment for a carbon transfer print. Use high gloss RC paper and play with the ultra matte effect of this sybstance and gloss aspects of the paper for a print.

  • Eric__

    You could claim it’s true black, but if that value can’t be technically reproduced by the camera or process, then it would be a theoretical black at best.

  • Jason Yuen

    Deep space probes rely on this kind of technology where they are so far from the sun, solar panels are useless. I believe one or both of the voyager satellites convert heat from radioactive elements into electricity. Very inefficiently though.

  • Anonymoused

    Could also be awesome for cases/storage for film, for those who shoot more traditionally.

  • Lucid Strike

    It’s noteworthy because of how much light it REFLECTS, not absorbs. :T