The article by Homeland Security Newswire details how engineers are working on an invisibility cloak that conceals items. The cloak will use a low refractive Teflon substrate in conjunction with high refractive ceramic cylinders (HLS, 2015). The cloak will be able to conceal objects without altering the light brightness around those objects, collect solar energy, and upsurge optical communication signal speed. In effect, the cloak scatters electromagnetic waves off the concealed object. The metamaterial of the cloak forces light to bypass a region of space, and thus isolates the object from incoming electromagnetic waves.
The new development improves on earlier versions as it requires super-thin layers that improve the capability to hide the object’s shadow while at the same not reducing the intensity of light. The concealed objects will then appear imperceptible and flat to viewers (HLS, 2015). While the cloak is still under development, the engineers at the University of California, San Diego have already achieved headway with the concealment properties.
The new technology has tremendous applications for Homeland Security. In this era of drone warfare, having a military advantage over one’s adversary is pivotal. The cloak assures this advantage by providing ultimate stealth protection for objects including unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, planes, and other objects interested in dodging radar (Jahner, 2015). Since the cloak makes objects disappear from view without any electronic, visual, or infrared signature, practitioners can go about carrying their tasks without worrying about the enemy identifying them. Being undetected will also reduce casualties from war as practitioners will go undetected, and this has the advantage of increasing enlistment numbers in the military.
On the other hand, the technology presents an enormous challenge to homeland security especially if the technology lands in enemy hands. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are utilized for malevolent intents since they are capable of carrying weapons, toxic chemicals, and cameras (HLSN, 2015). They can thus be used by both the citizenry as well as outsiders for terrorism, espionage, and smuggling. If these UAS have the capability to go undetected by the latest anti-UAS defense systems, they leave the country vulnerable to attacks. The invisibility cloak is thus both beneficial and detrimental to homeland security.
The technology has other applications including extracting wounded armed forces from the battlefield. When used with other technologies such as medical robots, the cloaks become useful for medical purposes. Medical and extraction robots that are used instead of medical personnel in battlefields can be cloaked and used to extract soldiers undetected. Brave medical personnel have faced casualties on the battlefield trying to extract their colleague but with invisible robots doing this work; the trend would be changed.
Beyond the battlefield, the technology can be used to power equipment used by defense practitioners. The technology has the capability to change how light waves are reflected and focus sunlight onto power towers just like solar concentrators (HLS, 2015). As the department of homeland searches for novel renewable energy to power their apparatus including drones, this could be the answer. The invisibility cloaks could thus do double duty of powering and concealing security devices.
Kante, the lead engineer in designing the system, stated that they had originally intended the materials for cavities to trap light and store data for extended time periods (Jahner, 2015). By cutting slower electricity out of computers and processors altogether, the technology can be used for data transfer and storage by Homeland Security. The beauty of the technology is that the ceramics are cheap and abundant, and will thus not inflate the budget for homeland security.
HLS. (2015). Engineers design invisibility cloak for military drones. Retrieved from homelandsecuritynewswire.com:
HLSN. (2015). Anti-drone defense system now features quad band RF inhibitor, optical disruptor.
Jahner, K. (2015). Pentagon intrigued by breakthrough in cloaking technology.