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Vantablack goes on the road

The BMW X6 coated with Vantablack paint, to be showcased at the 2019 Frankfurt MotorShow. Image credit: BMW

Back in 2014 I wrote a post commenting on the announcement of the use of carbon nanotube to paint an object in real “black”. Black is the color absorbing all light (visible) wavelengths, but in reality what we usually call black is something that is absorbing quite a bit of the light spectrum but not all. The blacks around are actually blacks you can see, they are reflecting some light. Not so with Vantablack, a paint coating that absorb 99.965% of light (at 750 nm) produced by SurreyNanoSystems. An object painted in Vantablack loses all its shapes, it looks like a (black) hole in space.

Now BMW working with SurreyNanoSystems has announced that at the coming Frankfurt Motor Show it will showcase a BMW X6 painted in Vantablack. Actually, it will be a scaled down version, with an absorption of 99%, reflecting 1% of the incoming light. This to keep a minimum of reflectivity to let people feel the shape of the car.

According to SurreyNanoSystems you should not expect to see this version in production any time soon. The Vantablack is not sufficiently resilient to work as coating of a car (and it will be incredibly expensive). However, Hussein Al Attar, BMW’s creative director of automotive design, is convinced that a time will come when this coating will be offered, at reasonable price, at the public.

We have seen in the last decades progress in car’s coating, like the one providing a cloud effect, changing hues as light changes. We can expect to see much more progress in the next decade as new smart materials will become viable. One that I am waiting for (particularly for my daughter car) is a coating that can self repair itself from scratches …

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

One comment

  1. Hello Roberto,

    interesting topic! I assume there is not a violation to any regulation, as governments never thought so far about the possibility to have cars in vantablack. But for safety reasons, shouldn’t cars have a minimum of reflection?