The name Vantablack® stands for Vertically Aligned Nanotube Array black.
Vantablack is a free-space coating consisting of a 'forest' of aligned and equally spaced, high aspect-ratio carbon nanotubes (CNTs).
The CNT array is patterned and spaced to allow photons to enter. Most of the light, or radiation arriving at the surface enters the space between the CNTs, and is repeatedly reflected between tubes until it is absorbed and converted to heat. This heat (largely undetectable in most applications) is conducted to the substrate and dissipated. The Vantablack array is very largely free-space; the volume of CNTs only makes up about 0.05% of the coating. Consequently, only a minuscule proportion of the incident radiation is able to hit the tip of a CNT, explaining why such a small amount is reflected back to the observer.
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