Remember the James Bond flick “Die Another Day” where Pierce Brosnan camouflages his Aston Martin to escape from the villain, and also move undetected?
Yes, the very same mechanism has now been developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas. They were able to detect a unique characteristic in carbon nano-tubes with a kind of mirage effect which helps to switch on and turn off invisibility on demand.
Though the innovation is at its initial stage, the camouflage effect can be soon brought on to cars and other devices with further development. The camouflage effect is brought with the help of the mirage effect, through which the invisibility is brought due to extremely varying temperatures at a very short distance. When the temperature changes rapidly, the light rays that are supposed to bounce away from the object, tend to bend towards the viewer’s eyes.
The very same effect can be seen when you are driving along a straight road on a very hot day. If you look at the end of the road, you will able to see a water pool or something like a metal sheet. The same concept can be seen in deserts as well. Due to the high temperature, the light that is reflected from the sky changes its angle as soon as it reaches the hot ground. This reflected light hits on the viewers’ eyes, and appears like a sheen of blue coming from the ground. The brain interprets the image in the form of water rather than the sky.
From the video below, you can see that carbon nano-tubes that are highly conductive in nature are pushed inside a transparent sheet. These carbon sheets are wrapped into cylinders and are made into one atom thick layer. The device is able to rapidly rise the temperature of water that is filled around it. This causes the mirage effect to conceal the object on the other side, and that too at a very fast rate.
As the device performs best when it is surrounded with water, more tests have o be conducted to find a better solution for innovating it in cars. Furthermore, there are still questions regarding the angle at which the light reflects from the object towards the viewer. If it works only at one angle, the camouflage effect will also depend on the distance between the viewer and the object, and also on the rate of change of temperature. The device will need an auto-tracking system to calculate the actual distance and change the rate of change of temperature or nano-tube position accordingly.