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Engineers develop flexible skin that traps radar waves, cloaks objects

Researchers of IOWA State University claims to develop this flexible, stretchable and tunable "meta-skin" can trap radar waves. (Image Courtesy: Google)
Researchers of IOWA State University claims to develop this flexible, stretchable and tunable "meta-skin" can trap radar waves. (Image Courtesy: Google)

A newer flexible, stretchable and even tuneable “meta skin” has been developed by the Iowa State University, which is using rows of small, liquid metal devices which used to cloak an object from the sharp eyes of the radar. The name of the meta skin is being derived from metamaterials, which are a kind of composites having properties which are not being found in the nature and is having the capability of manipulating the electromagnetic waves.

The polymer skin can be stretched and tuned for reflecting the wide range of the radar frequencies. The discovery was recently being indexed online in the Journal Scientific Reports.

In the range of frequency between 8 and 10 GHz, part of the spectrum used for things like cable and satellite TV and radar devices, the material suppressed about 75 per cent of the radar waves. (Image Courtesy: Google)
In the range of frequency between 8 and 10 GHz, part of the spectrum used for things like cable and satellite TV and radar devices, the material suppressed about 75 per cent of the radar waves. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Research Details

The lead authors of the study includes Lowa’s state department of electrical and computer engineering are Liang Dong who is an associate professor and Jiming Song who is a professor. Co-authors of the study includes Lowa state graduate students Siming Yang, Peng Liu and Oiugu Wang and the former undergraduate Mingda Yang. The National Science Foundation and even the China Scholarship council has partially supported the project.

The engineer commenting over the study says that it is being believed that the present meta-skin technology will be finding many of the applications in the electromagnetic frequency tuning, shielding and scattering suppression. Dong is having his own background from the field of fabricating micro and the Nano scale devices and is being working with the liquids and polymers. Song is having his own expertise in looking and finding newer applications of the electromagnetic waves.

skin
The liquid-filled rings in the meta-skin create electric inductors, which resist changes in current passing through them, and the gaps create capacitors.Stretching the material changes the size of the liquid metal rings inside, so changes the frequency the devices suppress. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Suppression of the Electromagnetic waves

Working together as a team, they are being hoping of proving an idea that the electromagnetic waves, even though of the shorter wavelength of the visible spectrum can be supressed with the help of the flexible, tuneable liquid metal technologies. They came up with the rows of the split ring resonators which is being embedded inside the layers of a silicon sheets. The resonators are filled up with the galinstan which is a metal alloy which is in the state of liquid at the room temperature and is also less toxic as compared to the other liquid metals which includes mercury.

These resonators are in the form of short rings having an outer radius of about 2.5 mm and thickness of about half mm. They possesses one mm of gap which is essential for creating a small curved segment of the liquid wire. The rings creates the inductance and the gaps capacitance. Altogether they are creating a resonator which can be used to trap and even supress the radar waves at a particular frequency. Stretching a particular metallic skin changes the size of the liquid metallic rings which is located inside and is used for suppressing the frequency which the device is suppressing.

Radar Suppression

The various tests being conducted shows that the suppression of the radar was about 75 percent with a frequency range of 8-10 Ghz. When a object is being wrapped in a meta skin, the corresponding radar waves are being suppressed in all the possible incident directions and the observation angles too. Therefore the engineers wrote that, “Therefore, this meta-skin technology is different from traditional stealth technologies that often only reduce the backscattering, i.e., the power reflected back to a probing radar,”

As being discussed about the technology, Song took a tablet computer and called upon a picture of B-2 stealth Bomber. One day he came up with a conclusion that the meta skin could be used to coat the surface of a next generation of the stealth aircraft. But the researchers are hoping more for the cloak of invisibility.

Dong commenting over the same says that the long term goal is to shrink all these devices to smaller dimensions. Then we could possibly do this with the higher frequency electromagnetic waves which includes the visible or the infrared light. This could also require advanced nanomanufacturing technologies and corresponding appropriate structural modifications. This study is probably proving the concept of frequency tuning and broadening and even the multidirectional wave suppression with the skin type metamaterials.

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