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Chinese boffins crack cloaking tech for camouflage

Bend light here and hey presto, your aircraft becomes a bird

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Chinese boffins have invented new cloaking technology which distorts light in a way that could be used to disguise soldiers, or even aircraft, during combat.

Transformation optics scientists have made great leaps in recent years towards bending light in such a way as to make objects invisible, however, thus far they’ve been unable to replicate such an effect three-dimensionally, and with visible light.

Tie Jun Cui and his colleagues at Southeast University in Nanjing have decided upon a slightly different strategy.

Rather than try to make an object completely invisible, they’ve created a cloaking device made from thousands of split-ring resonators, arranged in concentric circles. These effectively scatter the incoming light to distort the object – making it appear smaller – and create two “ghost images” on either side of it, according to ExtremeTech.

The Nanjing-based boffins had this to say in the synopsis of their research paper, Creation of Ghost Illusions Using Metamaterials in Wave Dynamics:

By using the space transformation theory and engineering capability of metamaterials, we propose and realise a functional ghost illusion device, which is capable of creating wave-dynamic virtual ghost images off the original object's position under the illumination of electromagnetic waves. The scattering signature of the object is thus ghosted and perceived as multiple ghost targets with different geometries and compositions.

In other words, this “ghost illusion device” can effectively camouflage the cloaked object – think a soldier disguised as a tree or a fighter plane made to look like two birds.

The report's authors mention “camouflage” and “defense security” as potential applications. ®

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