metamaterials, laser resin and invisibility cloaks

6 08 2010

Metamaterials can bend light around objects to render them near-invisible, begins a recent report in New Scientist. But it is an imperfect, lossy process, meaning some light is absorbed on its way through the metamaterial, and therefore the object remains semi-visible.

Now a team of scientists at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana have invented a light amplifying resin ‘sandwich filling’ which, when stimulated by a laser, creates gain in the electro-optical signal, restoring the ‘lost’ light. The “negative-index metamaterial” means that an object can now conceivably be made  invisible to specific wavelengths of light.

Previous metamaterials, utilising nanoholes in a carbon matrix, IIRC, were able to mask objects in the microwave end of  the electromagnetic spectrum, but visible light has until now been elusive.

A wearable device is still light years away (pardon the pun!), but military installations, ships and even armoured vehicles are most definitely foreseeable near-term applications for the invisibility treatment.

Watch this space. Not that you’ll see anything 😉


kitty kat cornershot camo

20 06 2009

I thought this was someone’s idea of a joke when I first saw it. But, no – the demonstrator in the video below is deadly earnest (not Deadly Ernest, the comic pro-wrestler from Manchester, UK, but instead, a very, very serious company man ).

Cornershot camo

Cornershot camo

Now, the Israeli Cornershot system is a useful ‘force multiplier’ for dismounted urban operations, but I guess that to those being observed  through its barrel mounted video system it is still obvious that a gun barrel is pointing at them from round the edge of a wall. Until someone came up with this unconventional idea…


Thanks to F Gruenert/ICUS for the tip.

British Army unveils new equipment for infantrymen

21 09 2008

From the Mail Online

By Matthew Hickley

Last updated at 2:29 AM on 19th September 2008

Army equipment

Equipment of the future: The British Army has unveiled the new kit which will go into service in months

He’s deadlier, lighter, more streamlined and better protected – and he’s wearing the latest stylish four-colour camouflage pattern with matching two-tone Union Jack insignia and coral sunglasses.

The British Army has unveiled its latest state-of-the-art equipment for combat infantrymen, which will enter service with troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq within months.

Out goes the familiar and distinctive ‘pudding bowl’ shaped helmet worn by Britain’s soldiers for 20 years, and in comes a new shape more akin to today’s U.S. Army helmet, or the Second World War German design – offering improved neck movement and more space to fit a rifle sight to the eye.

The new colour scheme has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with new high-tech fabric dyes which maintain camouflage properties when viewed through infra-red night sights, and combine traditional desert colours with pale green shades – suited to the semi-desert environments where many of today’s battles are fought.

Five years after the Daily Mail first exposed the Army’s notorious melting desert boots and shortages of basic equipment on the eve of the 2003 Iraq invasion, senior military commanders insist the situation has been transformed for the better.

The Treasury has spent £1billion a year on the ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’ programme – rushing new kit into service in Iraq and Afghanistan when existing equipment proves to be dangerously inadequate – delivering a range of new armoured vehicles, weapons and clothing.

While shortages remain, and commanders remain frustrated by the need for more protected vehicles and helicopters, frontline troops acknowledge the improvements in personal equipment.

The new infantryman’s kit is known as project PECOC – Personal Equipment Common Operating Clothing – and is in the final stages of assessment before being issued to troops deploying on combat operations.

Designers are struggling to save weight across the board, because of recent feedback from commanders in Afghanistan warning that today’s infanteer is being expected to carry too much weight, often approaching 150lb of weaponry, armour, ammunition, food and a host of gadgets – ‘like going to work carrying your wife on your back’ as one soldier described it.

In soaring summer temperatures of 50 degrees centigrade, foot patrols are having to be equipped with more quad bikes and trailers to take some of the burden, and to help evacuate wounded troops.

(Lto R) SA80 weapon and kit prior to 2003, the current attire and a soldier wearing a trial outfit

British Army gear through the ages: (Lto R) SA80 weapon and kit prior to 2003, the current attire and a soldier wearing a trial outfit

Major Richard Coomber of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, requirements manager for the PECOC programme, said: ‘We have scoured the world for the best materials.

There is no magic secret to saving weight. We have to get the integration of all the different items right, starting with body armour plates which are thinner but tougher, and better designed to fit with webbing, packs, and weapons.

‘We spent a lot of time talking to troops who are using the existing equipment on operations.

‘The result is a system designed to fit together, and to be as flexible as possible, so the soldier can adapt it to the job he’s doing.’

The new clothing features removable padding inserts at the knees and elbows, and new ‘coral-coloured’ ballistic eye protectors, which give better colour perception than existing sunglasses.

The distinctive black-and-green Union Flag insignia offers better camouflage in daylight, but is also clearly identifiable through night-vision goggles, helping troops recognise each other during night battles.

Weaponry is constantly being upgraded, and the SA-80A2 assault rifle – which appears finally to have shaken off its unreliable reputation – is now fitted with an underslung grenade launcher and improved sights.

At a facility to show off the new kit on Salisbury Plain today Major General Bill Moore, Director General Logistic Support and Equipment for Land Forces, told the Mail that speed was the key to the Urgent Operational Requirement system.

He said: ‘In peacetime you can afford to spend five or ten years getting the reliability of your new tank just right, but in wartime we take a bit more risk with getting new equipment into service fast.

‘I think the next big thing for us is reducing weight for infantrymen, to make them more agile.

‘If we can make electrical batteries smaller and lighter, we will make progress.

‘We want to give the guys more options as to how much heavy protection they wear, depending on the threat and the task.’

scientists claim closer to success with invisibility shield

20 08 2008

Looks like a great story, doesn`t it? From scence fiction to science fact. But the full scoop from Defence Tech is another example of “nothing to see here, move along please”.

There is a pie in the sky - can you see it?

There is a pie in the sky - can you see it?

The article states that

according to Dr. Richard Hammond, a theoretical physicist with the Optical Physics and Imaging Science department of the Army Research Office, engineers are closer than they’ve ever been to developing a material that can bend light around an object rendering it invisible to certain wavelengths — light being one of them.

It claims

there are some significant obstacles to making a usable “invisibility cloak,” however.

But get this:

“in early applications we could shield an object from radar,” Hammond added.

So apparently some boffins have reinvented RAM (radar absorbent material) as used on stealth planes and ships. Whoopee-frickin`-doo!

Hey, you know what? I`ve come up with this great concept: It`s basically a disc with a hole in the middle. I think if you put some sort of rod through the hole you could rotate the disc around it, and if you had a disc on the other end, you would be able to hold the rod off the ground with them. I call it a centrally rotating axial perambulation device. I`m sure there must be thousands of practical applications for it. Perhaps the guys at the Army Research Office could find a use for it. If they haven`t already invented it, that is.

there`s no camo like snow camo…

18 08 2008

OK, I know that some car fanatics and petrol-heads will have seen this already – but for the rest of you, here is what Swedish pro skier Jon Olsson drives around in – a Lamborghini Gallardo in a custom snow camouflage scheme. Clearly inspired by his native country`s splinter style camo uniforms. I think it`s ice cold!

Swedish M90 camouflage pattern

Swedish M90 camouflage pattern

Via Ekhatch and 6speedonline

do you crave gadgets?

18 08 2008

Here`s a blog for all you gadget and gizmo geardos out there. It has a camo category, which is why I`m showin` the love here. Check it out!

digitally camouflaged phone tower

17 08 2008

Having myself just completed a contract to design a pixellated “digital” camo scheme for a privately owned wind turbine, I found this press release by my North American competitor Guy Cramer, of Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp (I`m guessing he just loves sci-fi!), interesting:

Invisible Towers (See: Invisible Towers).has acquired an exclusive license from HyperStealth to wrap cellular towers within the United States with HyperStealth Camouflage patterns using the HyperStealth “Consealment” 3M Printed Adhesive Vinyl. In 2007 Invisible Towers won an industry wide award for Innovation after wrapping two towers in 2006 with HyperStealth Consealment Camouflage to meet regulatory and/or community approval.

The four color HyperStealth Cloudcam version used on the Baltimore cellular tower uses White, Tan, Gray and Sky Blue as the only concealment required is for the variable sky conditions.

Cloudcam pattern on a Cellular tower being erected in Baltimore.

Cloudcam pattern on a Cellular tower being erected in Baltimore.