New cloaking tech could create invisible drones


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Bron:Zen Gardner

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Bewustzijn, (Grens)wetenschap, Kwantum fysica, Oorlog, Technologie

( | Nicholas West) As if concerns about the global drone arms race wasn’t enough, very soon we might not even be able to see what’s in the sky. The military has actually been working on cloaking technology for some time. In 2014 Defense One reported that by using “nano-needles” engineers at Purdue University created virtual invisibility by bending light around an object.

At the time, in 2007, researchers could only hide stationary objects. But as they went on to say:

In the years since, researchers from around the world have made steady progress in metamaterial design. But metamaterial doesn’t exactly grow on trees. It has to be engineered at the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter in size) so creating enough of it to hide anything has been a challenge. Chanda and his fellow researchers have developed a technique that allows for the mass-production of metamaterial through a type of printing process.

Here is a CNN report offering a layman’s view that highlights how the concept of bending light has been tested to replace the typical camouflage used by soldiers.

However, the complexities of fully hiding a moving object, especially at the speed of military drones, remains a challenge. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego believe they have found a solution.

In their paper “Extremely Thin Dielectric Metasurface for Carpet Cloaking” recently published in Progress in Electromagnetics Research, they offer a dense technical recounting of the advancements that have been made in invisibility cloaking. The upshot of their new approach is the development of an ultra-slim nanomaterial that uses optical properties as well as frequency distortion.  It offers the potential for full-spectrum invisibility as it accounts for the masking of visual signatures, but also “scatters” any traces of electronic or infrared output.

By scattering the electromagnetic radiation – in the visible, infrared or radar spectrum, such metamaterial will be able to render a coated object undetectable in these wave frequencies, by forcing light or radar waves to bypass the object surface through the coating, which effectively “cloaks” the object.

But it’s the slim design that ultimately could see these properties applied to drones:

“Previous cloaking studies needed many layers of materials to hide an object, the cloak ended up being much thicker than the size of the object being covered,” said Li-Yi Hsu, electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and the first author of the study … “In this study, we show that we can use a thin single-layer sheet for cloaking.”

[…] The researchers used Computer-Aided Design software with electromagnetic simulation to design and optimize the cloak. The cloak was modeled as a thin matrix of Teflon in which many small cylindrical ceramic particles were embedded, each with a different height depending on its position on the cloak.

Researchers also noted that it’s not all about more effective war machines, they “expect this technology to have applications in optics, interior design and art” … which really serves to emphasize the trickle-down nature of military funding.

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