AsianScientist (Mar. 12, 2019) – In a study published in ACS Nano, scientists in China have found a method to mask the detection of heat.
Hiding an object from heat-sensing cameras could be useful for military and technology applications as well as for research. Several prior systems have been developed to hide the difference in temperature between an object and its surroundings.
However, each of these alternatives has weaknesses, such as difficulty in making the devices, the need for a power supply, the use of rigid materials or the addition of thick and heavy thermal blankets that can lead to heat buildup.
In the present study, researchers led by Professor Zhang Xuetong at the Suzhou Institute of Nano-tech and Nano-bionics, China, have fabricated an inexpensive, easy-to-produce film that makes objects completely invisible to infrared detectors.
The researchers fabricated an aerogel film made of DuPont Kevlar fibers. By itself, the aerogel turned out to be a good thermal insulator, but the researchers enhanced its capabilities by coating its fibers with polyethylene glycol (PEG) and a protective waterproof layer.
PEG stores heat when it melts and releases heat when it solidifies. In simulated sunlight, the composite film covering an object soaked up heat from the sun while only slowly increasing in temperature, just like the surroundings, making the object invisible to a thermal camera. When the light was turned off to simulate night, the coating gradually surrendered its stored heat energy to match the surroundings.
Without the coating, the object heated up or cooled off much faster than its environment, making it visible. In a second type of application, a combined structure consisting of aerogel films and the PEG composite film could hide hot targets from a thermal camera. The researchers noted that their film performs comparably to other stealth films but is simpler and cheaper to make.
The article can be found at: Lyu et al. (2019) Nanofibrous Kevlar Aerogel Films and Their Phase-Change Composites for Highly Efficient Infrared Stealth.
Source: American Chemical Society; Photo: Pixabay.
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