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Did scientists just invent an invisibility cloak? If so, the military is interested.

support our troops invisibility cloak us militaryResearchers are working to create a new design for the Harry Potter-esque invisibility cloak, which will conceal objects, making them more difficult for adversaries to detect. (Photo: DoD photo Illustration )Recently – To scientists, it's called the "dielectric metasurface cloak." To the rest of us, it's something that makes you invisible, at least according to the people at the University of California-San Diego. It was invented by a team that includes professor Boubacar Kante, and it's possibly a huge step breakthrough in the ongoing quest for invisibility, according to an article in the Army Times. Not surprisingly, the work has military interest, and Kante and his team are planning to submit a proposal this month. The applications are obvious – something that could aid the military in hiding an object trying to get close to an objective would be valuable indeed.

"Unmanned Areal Vehicles and other planes, ships and anything else interested in dodging radar could have a use for it. And it could also be used as high-end camouflage for any background colors," the article said. "The Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center is a Defense Department contractor tasked essentially to be a matchmaker for the Pentagon and academia/industry. Kayla Matola, research analyst for HDIAC, told Army Times the UCSD design is lighter and cheaper than anything else out there, and “basically what the military’s looking for” regarding cloaking capabilities.

 

“If anything this could provide the military with air superiority,” Matola said." So how does it work? It's "a super-thin, non-metal material that manipulates electromagnetic waves, including visible light and radio waves," the article said. "Those electromagnetic waves and how they come off an object are crucial to the ability to detect it. Radar can't detect a plane without radio waves bouncing back to a receiver, and seeing requires light bouncing off an object and passing into your eyeball. Manipulating those waves could, in theory, prevent detection, and in certain conditions, Kante said he can do that." The material first came into the public's consciousness in 2006.

"In 2006 researchers demonstrated it was possible to absorb or direct electromagnetic waves around an object through a coating and make it “invisible”; it only worked on microwaves and in two dimensions. Advances since then helped lead Kante and his team (Li Yi Hsu and Thomas Lepetit) to a new material consisting of a layer of Teflon substrate with tiny ceramic cylinders embedded into it. Kante cited two main breakthroughs: the ultra-thin material, and the use of the ceramics rather than metallic particles in the Teflon. Previous cloaking efforts required materials as much as 10 times thicker than the wavelength being dodged. Missile guidance and marine radar wavelengths measure roughly 3 centimeters; that would require about a foot of coating.

Kante said his material can work at 1/10 of the wavelength. Hiding from that same 3 cm wavelength would thus only require about a 3 mm coat. Different thicknesses (thinner) could be used for electromagnetic waves as small as those of visible light (which ranges from about 400 to 700 nanometers.)"   Check back to our blog regularly for more about what's going on in the military. ––––––––– Want to learn more about how to help the troops? Click here to donate and show your support for the brave men and women soldiers serving our country. Please consider reaching out to us.

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