Vantablack: One of the darkest materials ever made

Ounce for ounce, it’s more expensive than diamonds or gold

Vantablack, an ominously-named coating, is one of the world’s blackest human-made substances. It was developed to coat satellite camera openings, absorbing stray light from the sun and moon so distant stars can be seen better.

It’s made out of tiny, hollow carbon tubes, the size of a single atom — about 3,500 times thinner than the width of a human hair. Like a forest, these tubes are 10,000 times as long as they are wide and so tightly packed together in a matrix that they absorb virtually all light (up to 99.96%) that hits them.

BMW X6 in the showroom

BMW X6 in the showroom in Vantablack. Photo credit: Getty Images

Understandably, high-end manufacturers are keen to get their hands on the new technology. BMW has painted its latest X6 on display at auto shows but isn’t offering it up for sale. And Swiss watchmaker Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps debuted a $95,000 limited edition Vantablack luxury watch.

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Unfortunately, you can’t just go out and buy Vantablack. It’s grown using a patented process that can take up to two days and, ounce for ounce, it’s more expensive than diamonds and gold.

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