Thermal Invisibility Delivered by a Tiny Device


Thermal imaging camera. / Photo by: Vitaly V. Kuzmin via Wikimedia Commons


Thermal imaging cameras are difficult to deceive as these work in detecting heat emitted by living things and objects. But a group of researchers managed to build a heat camouflage device using graphene, gold, and other materials.

Thermal imaging systems are usable in daylight and nighttime and detect infrared radiation ranging from a wavelength of 700 nanometers to 1 millimeter. So, creating an effective camouflage against thermal sensors has been challenging. Still, a research group found a way to develop one.

The group, composed of experts at the University of Manchester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bilkent University, and the Izmir Institute of Technology, developed a flexible heat cloaking system that works within seconds. They used materials like graphene, some nylon, a little amount of gold, and a few ions to create the system.

According to Forbes, the system itself has two flexible electrodes. The first one is made of graphene layers and the second one is made of heat-resistant nylon coated with gold. Between the two electrodes, a liquid of positively and negatively charged ions rests. When a small voltage goes into the device, the ions move into the graphene and act as an absorber of infrared light emitted by the wearer.

“By combining active thermal surfaces with a feedback mechanism, we demonstrate realization of an adaptive thermal camouflage system which can reconfigure its thermal appearance and blend itself with the varying thermal background in a few seconds,” the researchers explained.

As a whole, the entire heat cloaking system has a thinness of fewer than 50 micrometers. The material of the system also features an adaptive response, in which it can produce a substantial amount of heat to match its surroundings. The system has a potential application in wearing products to provide thermal invisibility.