metamaterial masking moves toward practical application

24 02 2011

Via Rachel Courtland, New Scientist. Issue 2800

NOW you see it, now it looks like something else. Radar images might never be the same again, thanks to an illusion device that can change an object’s appearance. The technology could ultimately be used to hide military aircraft.

The device is part of a growing family of metamaterials – structures designed to steer light along curved paths. They have already been used to make objects appear invisible and to disguise a gap between two objects.

Wei Xiang Jiang and Tie Jun Cui’s team at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, have created a structure that changes the way radio waves interact with a copper cylinder so that it appears to be composed of another material altogether.

Copper conducts electricity well and reflects incoming radio waves, giving it a bright radar signature. To alter this behaviour, the team built a device made of 11 concentric rings of circuit boards etched with small metal-lined channels that prevent electromagnetic waves reflecting away. Instead, they guide the waves in a direction that the researchers choose specifically to make the hidden object appear to have different electrical properties.

Placed around a copper cylinder, the arrangement created the illusion that the cylinder was made of a dielectric, a class of materials including porcelain and glass that do not conduct electricity and are more transparent to radio waves.

"Electromagnetic cloak"

A similar waveguide that rendered small objects invisible was tested in 2009.

The illusion only worked when the cylinder was viewed from the side; what’s more, the imaginary object it generated was the same size as the original. Future designs would have to account for all three dimensions, and might produce an illusion quite different from the object they disguise.

“In principle, this technology could be used to make an illusion of an arbitrary shape and size,” says Cui, whose team created an electromagnetic “black hole” for light in 2009. Similar illusion devices could eventually be used for stealth technology: for example, to “convert the radar image of an aircraft into a flying bird”, Cui says.

The work, which will be published in Physical Review E, is still at an early stage, however. At 45 millimetres, the team’s illusion device is three times as wide as the cylinder it disguised. “Their device is still fairly bulky relative to the original object, so further work needs to be done before a real device can be deployed,” says John Pendry of Imperial College London.

Although invisibility devices were invented first, the illusion technology might win the race to be put to practical use. “It is easier to falsify something than to hide it,” Pendry says.

The team next plans to explore ways to design devices with more complex shapes.





serbia steps up

15 10 2010

News from the Balkans, via Soldier Systems: After several years that saw some unusual digitally-designed camouflage schemes getting publicity as ‘the next new Serbian pattern’ (see examples below), the real-deal is now on show.

 

From the small, publicly available pictures I’ve seen, the new pattern seems to combine a Multicam style blurred/hard-edged background pattern of three shades (olive green, grey-green and light khaki) with sharper edged, fractal type shapes in rust brown and black.





sneaky sneakers

15 10 2010

Loving these tigerstripe camouflage shoes by Rhythm Footwear I saw via Soldier Systems. My desert camo All Stars have just developed a split in the sole, so maybe…

"Rhythm-Footwear-Camo-Sneakers"

 





better camo on the web

7 08 2010

My ICUS colleague Jon has launched a website for his new business  ‘Better Camo’ whose stated aim is to

“achieve superior concealment through the use of large, environmental texture and color based, digitally designed camouflage patterns”

With two  or three different textures on display, and having observed and absorbed the lessons learned by trailblazing companies like Hyde Definition, Better Camo looks set to add its distinctive look to the digital camouflage revolution.

"Better Camo gtx large swatch demo"

You can check out the patterns yourself, and follow Jon’s blog or his twitter posts  here: http://www.bettercamo.com/

We will be following their progress with interest and wish them every success for the future!





new afghan pixellated pattern

6 08 2010

My colleague Lawrence, over at Strike-Hold, picked up on some news out of Afghanistan which reveals that the Afghan National Civil Order Police are being kitted out in a desert coloured variant of Hyperstealth’s Spec4ce digital camouflage. The colours, while not the same, remind me of a mix between the old US 3 colour Desert Camouflage Uniform and Canada’s CADPAT Arid Regions.

The pale minty green background colour is not as out of  place as one might think – from just a short distance away the hue fades to a greyish colour and the browner tones in the pattern dominate.





hyde definition’s new look

6 08 2010

Hyde Definition, the digital camouflage and concealment company I run, has finally finished revamping its website. Well actually, not quite, as there are still one or two things that need adding and tidying, but to all intents and purposes it is done. Come on over and take a look!

"Hyde Definition web page"





camo comparison two

6 08 2010

ITS Tactical, who did a terrific job photographing several different camouflage patterns in Oklahoma last year, have hit gold again with a repeat of the test, this time in Texas, and featuring a few more camouflage patterns (and a few less duds).

With half an eye on the current conflict in Afghanistan the team at ITS chose a mixture of terrain that included sand and rocks and some scrubby growth. Although the landscape favoured desert and semi-arid camo patterns, four woodland/temperate designs were featured in the tests too – MARPAT Woodland, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Digital, Jieitai (Japanese flecktarn) and PenCott. Judge for yourself, but of the four,  I know which one I’d choose to wear in that sort of environment, if arid camo was not available ;-) Well, you would  expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

"ITS Camo Comparison 2"

The test is very comprehensive, with consistent photos of all the camouflage patterns mounted on a dummy at set ranges in four different locales. You get a chance to pick up to four best performing patterns in each photo set. A tip regarding voting though – to be sure you are voting for the patterns you think are best, familiarise yourself with the designs – and the order they appear in – with one of the close range photo sets, because at long range it gets pretty hard to tell some of them apart, and the picture captions don’t give anything away!

Anyhow, you can check it all out on ITS Tactical’s blog








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