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September 2, 2019

Don't Adjust Your Monitors: You Can't See Any Detail on This BMW X6

Don’t adjust your monitors. This is how this one-of-a-kind BMW X6 really looks like. Painted in the blackest of black—Vantablack—it is meant to create a special visual effect on the latest generation of BMW’s large sport activity coupe.

Developed more for aerospace applications, any surface coated in Vantablack loses its defining features to the human eye making them appear two-dimensional. In fact, it blots out virtually all design details and highlights making it rather unsuitable for automobiles. Yet, BMW sought out this “super black” shade because it is considered as a polarizing, provocative, and in-your-face—adjectives that can also be used to describe the X6.

The “Vanta” in Vantablack stands for “Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array,” a matrix made of carbon. Each of these carbon nanotubes has a length of 14 to 50 micrometers, with a diameter of 20 nanometers, making it around 5,000 times thinner than a human hair. As a result, around a billion of these vertically aligned carbon nanotubes fit into one square centimeter. Any light striking this surface is almost completely absorbed rather than reflected, and effectively converted into heat.

This technology was initially developed for coating space-borne components. As Vantablack can be applied at temperatures from as low as 430 degrees Celsius, it is suitable for delicate materials such as aluminum, and optical components coated in Vantablack enable observation of faint stars and distant galaxies that stray light from the sun makes difficult to detect.

The first generation of Vantablack introduced by Surrey NanoSystems in 2014 absorbed up to 99.965 percent of light, almost completely eliminating reflectance and stray light.

While the X6 Vantablack is currently a one-off, BMW says they’re not saying no to potentially offering the color as part of their catalog in the future.

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