Hiding from such detectors could become much easier, thanks to a new cloaking material that renders objects—and people—practically invisible.
"What we have shown is an ultrathin stealth 'sheet.' Right now, what people have is much heavier metal armor or thermal blankets," says Hongrui Jiang, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Warm objects like human bodies or tank engines emit heat as infrared light, and the new stealth sheet, described June 15, 2018, in the research journal Advanced Engineering Materials, offers substantial improvements over other heat-masking technologies.
"It's a matter of the weight, the cost and ease of use," says Jiang.
Measuring less than one millimeter wide—roughly the thickness of 10 paper pages—the thin sheet absorbs approximately 94 percent of the infrared light it encounters. Trapping so much light means that warm objects beneath the cloaking material become almost completely invisible to infrared detectors.