Outside of military and aerospace applications, there’s not yet a lot of practical uses for the incredibly black paints created in research labs, unless you consider recreating the slapstick comedy of a Looney Tunes cartoon in real life an important application. But there’s no denying these non-reflective paints look impressive, and if you’re a calligraphy artist or prolific doodler, Blink promises to be the blackest ink you can buy.
If you’re not up to speed on the drama behind these remarkable materials, buckle up for a crash course. Back in 2014, a British company named Surrey NanoSystems invented a pigment coating called Vantablack, where ‘Vanta’ was an acronym—Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array—that described how the pigment worked. Vantablack is made using microscopic carbon nanotubes that are capable of trapping and absorbing 99.965% of visible light instead of reflecting it. Reflected light is how the human eye sees the world, and without it, objects covered in Vantablack look like featureless black holes.
Seven years after it was created, most people haven’t experienced the peculiar optical effects of Vantablack in real life because an artist, Anish Kapoor, owns the exclusive rights to using it outside of military and aerospace applications. As with most technology earmarked for the military, its export from the UK is tightly controlled, and we’re still not entirely sure how safe materials like Vantablack are: some research suggests carbon nanotubes could potentially be carcinogenic.
Making highly non-reflective pigments isn’t a process exclusive to Surrey NanoSystems, however, and companies like Koyo Orient Japan have created alternatives such as Musou Black which absorbs 99.4% of visible light, by comparison, producing nearly the same results as Vantablack does, but without the restrictions on availability.
But whereas Vantablack and Musou Black require special application processes and equipment, Blink is promised to be “the blackest black ink” that can still be used in paint markers or with calligraphy and brush pens to create a waterproof matte finish that appears much blacker than traditional inks by reducing reflectivity. Just how much light is absorbed by the Blink ink isn’t known (we’ve reached out to Culture Hustle for more specific details) but a 30ML bottle sells for just $17 so don’t expect it to quite match the performance of materials like Vantablack—although it will undoubtedly outperform your trusted Sharpies.