Researches at the University of Central Florida have figured out how to create “invisibility cloaks” the could potentially envelop weapons the size of fighter jets in the most recent stealth technological advancement to date.
While scientists could create light-bending metamaterials from synthetic textiles for years, until now they’ve never been able to manufacture the material, which curves wavelengths of light around an object to render it invisible.
Using an advanced nanotransfer 3D-printing technique, researchers are now able to create four-by-four inch squares of the multilayer – metamaterial, and stitch the patches together with an automated tool to create large swaths, research leader Debashis Chanda explained in an email to Motherboard.
“Such large-area fabrication of metamaterials following a simple printing technique will enable realization of novel devices based on engineered optical responses at the nanoscale,” Chanda said explaining how the material could be tangibly used for the first time.
“The nanotransfer printing technique creates metal/dielectric composite films, which are stacked together in a 3-D architecture with nanoscale patterns for operation in the visible spectral range,” an article in the March issue of Advanced Optical Materials explained.
“Control of electromagnetic resonances over the 3-D space by structural manipulation allows precise control over propagation of light. Following this technique, larger pieces of this special material can be created, which were previously limited to micron-scale size.”
While the current technology only bends light across the red and blue spectrum, researchers estimate that within a few years it will be advanced enough to outfit military tech like fighter jets with the light-bending camouflage to hide them from enemy infrared and other sensors.
The Office of Naval Research has already funded the tech and researchers are now seeking additional outside funding from aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin.