Nano Bits. When Nano Meets Print.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014 | By Gerry Mulvaney


By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

Landa’s NanoInk® colorants are super absorbers of light, which in turn means richer, more vibrant colours when printing with a Landa Digital Press. Benny Landa’s team at Landa Labs in Rehovot, Israel discovered the feature when they were researching pigments in the course of their work on nanotechnology and today we can see the results in the very high quality of printed colour samples coming off the Landa S10 press.

However, they were not the only ones seeing the effect of taking particles down to nano size – 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. A small company in England Surrey Nanosystems has announced the creation of a new substance they have called Vantablack, a product that is so black that it absorbs 99.96% of all light – making it one of the blackest substances currently known to man.

Steve Northam, Surrey Nanosystems

Vantablack is the closest thing on earth to a black hole

The company has found a way of growing carbon into nano-sized tubes which are so densely packed together that they act a bit like a very dense forest of trees – light is absorbed by the carbon and as far as I can understand it any stray light is reflected inside the space between the tubes and then absorbed as well. According to Surrey Nanosystems it reflects only 0.035% of radiated light, compared to say charcoal which reflects 4% of radiated light.

Now I have not seen the result, but according to reports in the press after the product was announced at the Farnborough air show in July, the visual effect of this super absorbency is to remove all traces of the contours and shapes of the material on which it is applied, making it seem almost like it’s not there at all. It sounds very weird, but clearly it has got some serious scientific applications and the launch at the Farnborough air show would suggest that some of those are in the aerospace industry and some are likely to have military applications as well.

Vantablack (vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays)

Vantablack, a new super black material that absorbs 99.965% of light

There will also be those who can see other uses for this “super black” substance and one of the first to be working with it is the famous Indian born Sculptor Anish Kapoor. I was privileged to see one of his exhibitions at Nottingham Castle a couple of years ago and the way he used different shapes and colours to distort the surroundings and unnerve the viewer was quite stunning. You found yourself staring at solid objects which seemed to change shape the longer you looked at them. Kapoor was interviewed recently and claimed that looking at Vantablack was like looking into a black hole in space and being sucked in, so it will make compelling viewing when he unveils the results in a few months’ time.

Nanotechnology is Bigger than you Think

Nanotechnology might still be regarded as in its infancy, but with so much research now going on around the world into different uses for the technology, it is clear that it is going to play an increasingly important role in our lives and more importantly in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

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Landa S10 - Printing Press