This Is A Kickstarter For None More Black

Vantablack is the darkest pigment ever created, capable of absorbing 99.96% of visible light. If you cover something in Vantablack, it turns into a black hole. No detail is presented, and physical objects become silhouettes. Objects covered in Vantablack are outside the human experience. The mammalian mind cannot comprehend a Vantablack object.

Vantablack is cool, but it’s also expensive. It’s also exclusively licensed by [Anish Kapoor]’s studio for artistic use. Understandably, artists have rebelled, and they’re making their own Vantablack-like pigments. Now, the World’s Blackest Black is on Kickstarter. You can get a 150 ml bottle of Black 3.0, something that’s almost black as Vantablack, for £10.

Is this a photoshop? Who knows.

The pigment for Black 3.0 is called Black Magick, and yes, there was a version 2.0 The problem with the earlier version is that although the pigment was blacker than almost anything else, paint isn’t just pigment. You need binders. The new formulation uses a new acrylic polymer to hold the pigment, and ‘nano-mattifiers’ to make the paint none more matte.

What can you do with the blackest black paint you’ve ever seen? Well, taking pictures of an object covered in the blackest black is a tiny bit dumb. This is something that must be experienced in person. You could paint a car with it, which is something I really want to see. You could follow [Anish Kapoor] around in the shadows. Use it as a calibration target. Who knows what we’ll do with the almost-Vantablack when everyone has it.

102 thoughts on “This Is A Kickstarter For None More Black

  1. I read something different on Kickstarter: “This means that the mattifiers we used in Black 2.0, which added a tiny grey tint, ARE NO LONGER NEEDED making a way blacker looking paint!”

  2. It seems most useful for those doing things with optics, like telescopes and such, to cut back on stray light from scattering in tubes and such. Or just screwing with someones brain by painting everyday stuff extremely black. (And from experience with black 2.0 the effect is eerie even in real life, like something that black just shouldn’t exist)

      1. The value/worth is entirely predicated on what use you have for it. I haven’t personally used any and I personally have no application for it so to me personally it’s not worth the price. I’ve seen it used by someone else who DID find it worth the price and for their application (a few things in a red laser light optics system for their research for a bit of it and dicking about painting stuff solid black and leaving them around the lab to mess with people for a larger part of it). I believe for Black 2.0 they sell sampler packs, so if you find it interesting I’d say go for it. But don’t take my word as a stranger on the internet for it. Decide if it might be worth it to YOU.

      1. Even if it reflects nothing at all, it will still emit black-body radiation, so to effectively get rid of short-wavelength radiation, you would still need to chill the surface.

        1. Or, here’s a thought: Paint the surface of a peltier. If this absorbs so much radiation, it could be an excellent way to get better efficiency out of solar powered thermoelectric generators. You wouldn’t need to such an expensive solar concentration system, making this an affordable way to generate electricity. Perhaps, rather than peltiers, we could use this paint on solar powered steam engine generators or the very efficient stirling engine…

          1. It will be interesting to hear what it actually does.
            Absorption and emittance usually go hand in hand. So it will likely both absorb and emit heat energy.
            (Which is why pebbled (increased surface area for the footprint) white surfaces are great emitters: they’ll emit less than black but they absorb less back in, for a better net emitting performance.)
            Look to the materials that absorb in one wavelength range and emit in another. There’s a few solar devices in some German products using such.

          2. I was thinking about water solar thermal collectors for water heating and desalination/purification. Paint the inside of a box with this and wind some metal tubing, also painting with it, inside the box. Put a glass lid on it, and run water through the tube. I’m sure it would have no trouble vaporizing water and then you condense the steam and get fresh water. Question is how does the paint handle high temperatures?

          3. “Question is how does the paint handle high temperatures?”

            I’m guessing can take the heat since the reaction to create the VANTA’s notes pyrolosis which is higher temperature than what the sun light will create even in a vacuum tube directly. Focused however… yes… that can be significantly higher temperatures and maybe something like silica carbide would be a good backing material. Might need a heliostat, fresnel lens, some other optical train or concentrating dish/trough to reach the temperatures to vaporize. Maybe not at high altitude… though seems like vacuum or high quality insulation to store the heat will be required also.

  3. I’ve seen a car with a “black 2.0” (or similar) film wrap applied. You tend to spot something weird out of the corner of your eye that seems unnatural. When you look directly at it it is difficult to tell what kind of car it is (the headlight shape gave it away). I can’t imagine it’s remotely legal to have that kind of “paint job”, for road safety reasons. Strangely eye-catching for something that tries hard to be invisible.

      1. Legal, yes. Sensible? No. “Sorry, I didn’t see your ultra black car as you pulled out in front of me/parked on the roadside without lights at night. While technically we were both at fault, I think the insurers and courts will agree you acted without considering the ramifications of your actions on other road users, especially at night and in fog.”

        1. That’s what reflectors are for. Atleast where i am, it’s illegal to park the wrong way around on the side of the road (meaning front facing front of incoming traffic on the same side) and in the rear there must be reflectors.

          A (mat) black car can be pretty much as bad to see in the night and a white can be hard to see against snow and grey can be hard to see against asfalt.

        2. “Sensible? No”

          Why?

          Is the road painted in Vantablack too?
          Is the sky?
          Are the surroundings at the side of the road? (Since cars are 3-dimensional objects that stand above the road you do see them against the background scenery, not just the pavement)

          Actually, even black asphalt, once it is no longer fresh usually has quite a bit of white in it.

          I can just imagine what the other driver might say in their defense. “Officer, I didn’t see the details of the car. I only saw a perfectly crisp silhouette of a car so I assumed that was just some sort of void in space that I could drive through.” Really? That’s the black car driver’s fault?

          Not to mention reflectors and headlights, both of which are mandatory in most places.

          “without lights at night”

          Ok, you did kind of address that but driving at night without lights is illegal in most places already. What does it have to do with painting one’s car?

          Here in a “road salt state” I think a Vantablack car would actually be one of the most visible things on the road! It would certainly be more visible than a lot of the dirty-white or sky-blue cars that are already too common.


          1. “without lights at night”

            Ok, you did kind of address that but driving at night without lights is illegal in most places already. What does it have to do with painting one’s car?

            I think he meant the parked black car is lights off, though that’s what reflectors are for.

    1. I would be really interested to see the Lidar / Radar cross-section of a car painted like this compared to the normal car. I bet that with no front plate you would effectively have immunity from speed measurement devices.

        1. Still possible. They just have a second camera behind the speed trap. I live in a state where they only issue you a single plate for the rear of the vehicle. People are still getting tickets from those machines. And in most places, they are setting them up in pairs to catch people in both directions.

        1. Think they go for headlights and license plates (do here anyway). The laser veil coatings for headlights seem pretty popular. Same for license plates. Haven’t tried it myself but have jammers mounted between the lights and the front plate. Seems to catch stray beam wobbles when first being targeted. Causes a bit of head scratching (def not driving a sports car :p )

    2. “I can’t imagine it’s remotely legal to have that kind of “paint job”, for road safety reasons”

      Well sure if you want to clean your car every day and hopefully you dont live in any dusty areas. Ive owned a normal black car and that was such a pain in the ass to keep clean that i couldnt even imagine a car with one of these coatings on it. The problem with matte coatings is that they tend to pick up dust even quicker than gloss coatings do,

  4. Apply it inside and outside at the ends of a heat pipe.

    Black bodies are the most efficient absorbers and radiators of heat. Absorb concentrated solar on the outside, radiate the energy on the inside to a liquid whose vapor pressure is low enough for it to turn to a gas. Let the vapor carry the energy to the far end of the pipe and re-transfer the energy by condensing. Absorb the energy inside that end, and radiate it on the outside.

    That should make one heck of a thermal collector.

    1. No, that’s not the way it works. You actually want a selective absorber: you want it to absorb visible (solar) radiation, and reflect infrared radiation to trap it inside. Blackbodies are ideal absorbers/radiators, but that means it’s both good at absorbing visible radiation (which raises the temperature) *and* radiating it (which reduces it).

      That’s how you figure out the effective temperature of the Earth, for instance: assume it absorbs solar radiation on the side facing the Earth (energy in) and radiates it over the entire Earth’s surface (energy out). The Earth’s albedo affects the energy absorbed, but it doesn’t affect the energy radiated (under the assumption that the Earth is a perfect blackbody at IR).

      If you change it so that the Earth is a near-perfect selective absorber (so instead of the ideal Stefan-Boltzmann law on one side, you have an efficiency which is near 0), you can raise the temperature dramatically – which a “perfect” selective absorber you’d raise the temperature to the point where you can radiate enough energy back out in the *optical*, which means you’d be in the thousands-of-degrees level, but obviously you can’t make a perfect selective absorber.

      And obviously the overall thermodynamic efficiency is higher with a bigger temperature change, so selective absorbers can win dramatically. A “perfect black” isn’t that big a deal compared to “regular” black, since you’re only talking about maybe a 10% improvement (from 90% to 99%).

    1. I was hoping for hidden detail in the image when I posterized it in gimp. But sadly it appears it really is all just one value. I didn’t check the metadata. I bet this would have been a good use case for a run length encoded bitmap, lol.

        1. While that is very black, and certainly useful for some things, it cannot be used to cover a surface and if the camera is next to the light source looking parallel you would just get ordinary black.
          Since it is a hole in a box It has no thickness or it is as thick as the box depending on how you look at it.

  5. To buy Black 2.0 you’re supposed to agree to not allow Anish Kapoor to get his hands on it.

    Vantablack may be the only surface coating directly responsible for severe injury to a human. Well, combined with the injured human stupidly ignoring the warning signs. Anish Kapoor made “art” that was just a fairly deep pit in a floor, coated with Vantablack. It appeared as though it was just a black circle on the floor, so the aforementioned human decided that’s what it actually was and attempted to walk across it.

    1. Have to disagree there, a couple of other injurious and deadly coatings that come to mind are the doping on the Hindenburg and the external cladding of the Grenfell tower…

    2. There is also the reflective coating used on the Wynn Hotel/Casino is Las Vegas. No one has been injured yet, but it has certainly melted a lot of furniture and has a pretty high potential of killing/injuring someone.

  6. I wasn’t too impressed with Black 2.0–I tried painting on top of a glossy traditional acrylic black, and ‘gray’ tint is perhaps an understatement–but perhaps we now have a material suitable for constructing the Hithichiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 2.0

  7. I felt like I had seen all this before, so I did a little digging, and was right. NASA was developing a similar product years ago (https://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/new-nano.html) and the original research was done by Rensselaer even earlier (https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/2393). How did this Kapoor fellow get involved? Did he just license it from one of the original teams and lock it down? I’m not interested enough to dig further.

  8. “What can you do with the blackest black paint you’ve ever seen?”

    If it’s at least moderately durable it might be a great paint for finishing amateur project builds.

    Think about it. How many of us have the equipment, ideal locations and skill to apply a professional/factory looking finish to our projects? I actually have worked in a factory doing touch-ups on car dashboards that had come out of the painting machine with defects. I did that all day long but I still can’t manage a professional looking paint job at home because a windy, dusty, buggy and humid back yard is not an ideal painting environment and spray cans are not ideal painting tools.

    But, Black 2.0 or Vantablack are supposedly so dark that you cannot see surface features. Surely then nobody is going to see a paint drip, bubble, etc…! Maybe this should be the “official” new color for HaD readers!

    1. I have used the Black 2.0, and it less ‘complete black’ and more ‘completely matte’ which contributes to it’s darkness by knocking down specular reflections. Whatever you paint with it still looks painted, very dark, but not like a hole in the universe where the object once was as some of the descriptions seem to imply. You’d still be irritated by contamination.

  9. Darkness beyond blackest pitch
    Deeper than the deepest night
    Lord as vast as the largest ocean
    Colder than the coldest ice
    King of Darkness who shines like gold upon the Sea of Chaos
    I call upon thee and swear myself to thee.
    I stand ready to bear the strength you give me.
    Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed
    By the power you and I possess!

  10. It still boggles my mind that a fellow artist would restrict the use of a pigment. I guess greed doesn’t discriminate, and its definately one way to cause a stir. I had never heard of Stuart Semple or Anish Kapur until all this fiasco.

    1. But (economic) value in art is all about scarcity. That’s why paintings fetch more than engravings/prints/photos. Although I’d take a Rembrandt engraving over any of Kapoor’s work.

      Except for that big shiny bean. That’s pretty cool. But you kinda gotta leave it on location. It would just look silly in my front yard.

      Kapoor’s schtick is displaying the extraordinary properties of materials. When everyone has Vantablack, it’s no longer extraordinary, and he’s got no more schtick. It’s just good business.

    2. A very pertinent comment the last time we went through Vantablack on here, was that it isn’t actually Kapoor’s choice to make, it’s whoever manufactures the stuff. They also mentioned possible health and safety problems with nanoparticle anything, for which it’s presumably easy to let Kapoor sign off on, so his descendants don’t sue you, than it is to mass-market it as a paint and expect regulations like that to stick. Particularly to worry about would be unforeseen problems that affect thousands of people at some future date.

      The amount of care it’s reasonable to expect a company to take varies a lot, between giving it to just one artist, and mass producing it. And if mass-produced, could they sell it at any price that an artist is willing to pay? Besides Kapoor being loaded, he’s presumably not paying any actual sort of price reflecting a retail price, more like they’re giving him a few dozen grams at a time diverted by hand from their main production.

      Stuart Semple, AFAICT, is a nobody, who’s made his name (such as it is) by what attention this has drawn him, and is now making hay out of the publicity as much as he can, the business of all postmodern artists. This includes such stupid things as selling the “pinkest pink” online, and trying to produce his own special black by just sticking extra pigment into ordinary black paint. You or me might rise above that, but of course Kapoor hasn’t because he’s no better than Semple. This is his job. Getting rich idiots to hear of him, with stupid “clever” stunts that witless wastes of space use to pad out their conversation before they die. You perform the stunts, to get attention among braying wankers. That attention gets you written up, which brings credibility. Then credibility gets you commissions, Arts Council cheques, and governments paying you vast amounts to erect reinforced concrete effigies of your own shit at ten-thousand-times-life-size.

      There’s no point to any of this and at no point is humanity enriched.

      1. If you’re wondering, btw, I had a mate doing an art degree during the 1990s, when this was at it’s self-indulgent worst. He had an interview at Goldsmiths but went somewhere else for early hipster reasons. I heard all of the nonsense from the horse’s mouth. For some reason we logical types can find it a bit grating.

  11. Normal black paint absorbs about 97.5%. Black 3.0 is 98% to 99%. Vantablack is 99.96%. Looks like this will fall short of the “black hole” illusion.

    Does anybody know how to grow vertically aligned nano tube arrays?

    1. What, personally, or the human race? I suppose the Vantablack people do. I wonder how they stay vertical all mixed up in paint like that? What if you hold the tin sideways?

      That extra percentage I’m sure you could get by appropriately texturing your medium. Cement might be good, polished glass not so much.

  12. Texture is a very important factor. Just painting something will leave a surface that reflects something, no matter how black. A matte black velour (velvet-like) surface will look more black than most paints, since the pores between the fibers absorb more than a perfectly smooth flat surface. This is why black flock-coated papers and fabrics are often used to line the inside of telescope tubes and microscope tubes and other optical devices, where you want to prevent or reduce internal reflections.

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