Canadian camouflage company claims to have created perfect invisibility cloak, US military soon to be invisible
A Canadian company called Hyperstealth is reporting that it has developed Quantum Stealth, a material that renders the target “completely invisible by bending light waves around the target.” If the mock-up photos are to be believed, Quantum Stealth basically works like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Since 2002, Hyperstealth has been in the business of designing camouflage patterns for military uniforms, vehicles, and installations. In 2010, at the International Camouflage Symposium, Hyperstealth’s CEO Guy Cramer demonstrated SmartCamo — a material that could reportedly adjust its camouflage markings to match its surroundings. We say “reportedly” because Cramer apparently published a video demonstration of SmartCamo, but then US military intervened and asked him to take it down. Presumably Quantum Stealth is a follow-up from SmartCamo.
Again, for security reasons, Cramer is saying very little about Quantum Stealth. All of the pictures that you see here, and on Hyperstealth’s site, are mock-ups, because “for security issues we can not show the actual technology.” Cramer says that both the US and Canadian military have seen Quantum Stealth in action, and that they’ve also confirmed that the material obscures the target from infrared (thermal) imaging. Below, you can see Cramer talking to CNN’s Pentagon correspondent about Quantum Stealth.
Now, we’ve written about invisibility cloaks in the past, but these have generally been very small, lab-based experiments that only work with very specific wavelengths of light. These invisibility cloaks generally work by bending light around an object using metamaterial waveguides — think of them as optical paths that negatively refract light, so that their detour around the object can’t be discerned. So far, we have only managed to develop metamaterials that bend specific wavelengths of light — so the object might be invisible to microwaves or infrared, but not both. Quantum Stealth reportedly works across the entire range of visible light, and infrared too. If this is really the case, Quantum Stealth completely redefines the state of the art.
In theory, Quantum Stealth works by bending light around the target, and Cramer certainly uses the right words to support his case — nanotechnology, metamaterials — but it’s still very hard to believe that a lone inventor in Canada has actually succeeded in creating an invisibility cloak. It’s not impossible, but it’s improbable. I want to say that there’s a clue in the name — that Quantum Stealth somehow uses some neat glitch in quantum mechanics to provide invisibility — but really, it’s probably just hyperbole, like the company’s name. If Quantum Stealth really exists, though, you’d assume that the US military would be quick to flaunt its new toy. After all, there’s nothing more terrifying than an invisible army.