Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have created a material that can mask heat signatures from infrared cameras.
The team developed a stealth sheet that can be used to hide objects, like humans or combat vehicles, from infrared cameras, which are commonly used by drones to find targets despite weather conditions.
Current solutions do exist, but they are cumbersome. This material is an ultrathin stealth sheet that is cheaper, easier to use, and a lot lighter, according to the researchers.
Less than 1-mm thick, the sheet can absorb 94 percent of infrared light, making the objects or people behind it almost invisible to detection devices.
What is cool about the new concept is that the researchers upped the deception ante by building heating elements into the design. For example, the sheet could not only shield a soldier, but he/she could make the sheet give off a random heat signature. So, the drones would think they are looking at some sort of harmless varmint, perhaps a bunny rabbit, when it’s actually passing over a hidden soldier.
The sheet uses black silicon, a material typically found in solar cells. The silicon is made up of millions of microscopic nanowires that essentially trap the light.
Other invisibility cloaks have been developed in the past. For example, researchers from the University of California, Irvine were inspired by the Cuttlefish. They didn't create a sheet, but rather an adhesive tape that, when applied to an object, makes it blend into the background by reflecting infrared light similar to the surrounding terrain.
Next, the researchers will work on scaling up the prototype.