When light is reflected from a surface, our eyes instinctively categorise it according to its gloss. A mirrored, or highly polished, surface has a high gloss as it exhibits regular reflection where the rays of light are reflected in parallel. On the contrary, a matte surface exhibits micro-roughness which scatters the light. This is known as diffuse reflection and reduces the amount of light reflected in one direction. This phenomenon is demonstrated further in super black materials which have been known to absorb upwards of 99.995% of all incoming light.
Matting agents are used mainly in coatings for their haptic and optical qualities. These enhancements include adding surface sensitivity and durability as well as making surfaces easier to clean. These improved coatings and inks can be used in automotive and industrial finishes, architectural materials, and consumer goods. Coated applications may be more resistant to scratches, craters, and impurities on the substrate. The most used matting agents are silica, wax, and fillers.
Matting agents can be used to increase the longevity of products by improving their durability. In recent years there has been a shift in focus to bio-based matting agents which contain lower levels of volatile organic compounds (chemicals emitted as gases from common household products), while delivering the same superior mechanical properties.
Nanoparticles can also be used as matting agents. Poly(methyl methacrylate) is used as a matting agent for the making of plastic films and sheet metal. It is a low cost and effective polymer that can be used instead of a polycarbonate like material. These particles are also safer as they do not carry the hazardous substance bisphenol.
Colour psychology in the medical field is well studied. Traditionally, healthcare settings adopt whites and blues which are commonly associated with cleanliness and tranquillity. Using light colours allows equipment to blur easily with the background, allowing the staff to focus on the patient, and makes it easier to spot defects and stains. But a consequence of using white is its increased reflection of light. Operating theatres and other healthcare facilities are well lit with natural or artificial light. To avoid glare, medical equipment can be coated in a matte-white finish.