Harry Potter, The Invisible Woman, and Martian Manhunter are just three of many fictional characters who have a special ability to turn invisible. Aside from the ability to fly, most people would choose invisibility when asked what power they would want—it may be safe to say that the same goes for the military sector. They believe that soldiers need more than just body strength and firepower to defeat the enemy.
The United States Armed Forces do great things for the country by defending Americans around the world and working well with allies. But more importantly, they want to empower their armies.
With this in mind, a network of organizations developed the bold idea of creating material that can make soldiers invisible to the naked eye.
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a public research university in the U.S. that recently made a breakthrough for an invisibility material when engineers were able to construct prototypes.
Materials used for the invisibility technology include aluminum, plastic and sticky tape. Engineers at UCI built the technology using capacitors, which reports say are comprised of reflective infrared coating, dielectric elastomer, and proton electrodes.
Iridocyte, a rare squid skin cell, is the inspiration for developing the invisible material. The unusual cell has sheets of platelets, which is composed of a protein known as reflectin. UCI engineers then came up with small swatches that completes the invisible material.
The said component has allowed the material to have an incredible feature of modifying its temperature based on the location. It could also make the user invisible to infrared night vision cameras.
According to Alon Gorodetsky, an engineering professor at UCI, and Chengyi Xu, a doctoral student at UCI, the archetype that they developed reflects heat by varying the exterior of its structure when activated.
The invisibility material will not just help soldiers with their camouflaging tactics because it can also be used as a storage container, and an emergency cover for their aircrafts and tanks.
Once the swatches attached to the material reflects the heat from their surroundings, the invisibility material will transform from dull and wrinkled to shiny and smooth.
Gorodetsky said, “We were inspired both by science fiction and science fact – seeing dinosaurs disappear and reappear under an infrared camera in ‘Jurassic World’ and seeing squid filmed underwater do similar things. So, we decided to merge those concepts to design a really unique technology.”
Before UCI, there was HyperStealth Biotechnology Corporation
Because the U.S. military is supporting all advancements in camouflaging and invisibility materials, companies are jumping on board. HyperStealth Biotechnology is just one of them.
The Maple Ridge-based company is involved in engineering and distributing modified military uniforms. With an estimated revenue of $8.8 million, the company headed by Guy Cramer can surely come up with a technology that will help the defense forces.
HyperStealth Biotechnology invented a camouflaging material called ‘Quantum Stealth.’ Reports have suggested that the Canadian company did not disclose the way they processed the Quantum Stealth. However, they did mention that the technology allows the user to be invisible by means of deflecting light waves.
Quantum Stealth also has the capability to fool night vision goggles, which are mostly used by law enforcement and military agencies.
According to Cramer, “Two separate command groups within the U.S. Military and two separate Canadian Military groups as well as Federal Emergency Response Team (Counter Terrorism), have seen the actual material so they could verify that I was not just manipulating video or photo results.”
Cramer said that Quantum Stealth would be vital for soldiers, especially for pilots accidentally ejected behind enemy lines. Special Forces would also benefit as they can execute raids in broad daylight. When it comes to aircraft and submarines, both could be concealed and avoid radar detections.
Allowing the military sector to utilize the technology of invisibility materials would definitely change the face of the world. It will not only make soldiers more reliable, it could also make them safer in their missions.
These invisibility devices are still on the nascent stage, but with the continuous support from both the companies and the authorities, the technology will surely reach its prime in no time.