IIT-K scientists develop material to help soldiers avoid detection by enemy
Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) said on Monday they have developed textile-based metamaterials that can help defence personnel and vehicles avoid being detected by enemy radars.
The project was supported by the Defence Research Development Organisation, the department of science and technology, and IIT-K. It was carried out by Kumar Vaibhav Srivastava of the electrical engineering department and J Ramkumar of the mechanical engineering department of the institute.
They said the material can be used as uniforms for personnel and skirting or covering ground vehicles to avoid their detection by the enemy’s advanced battlefield radars, motion-detecting ground sensors and thermal imaging systems. The material is flexible and can be customised for different climates, they added.
“In a major achievement, we have designed and produced micro-structured infra-red metamaterials with processes that can be readily scaled for mass production to cover large area surfaces. These infra-red metamaterials are applied on any given surface to reduce the thermal emission to create infra-red stealth,” professor S Anantha Ramakrishna of the department of physics at IIT-K said.
Transparent meta-material absorbers have also been developed for vehicular windshields or a canopy of slow aircraft like helicopters.
“We are also in the process of developing robust meta-materials for radar stealth which can be applied on high-speed aircraft and switchable meta-materials for active camouflage applications,” Ramakrishna said.
He said at the beginning of the 21st century, new composite micro-structured materials called meta-materials were found to have very unexpected properties due to their specific structure that caused resonant interactions with electromagnetic waves.
Ramakrishna said they began working on defence applications of metamaterials, which will reduce radar detection in most radar bands, around 2010.
“Stealth fighter aircraft were already in use but they used very different concepts and heavy ceramic ferrites for achieving stealth. Meta-material based absorbers held the promise of lightweight, ultra-thin and flexible materials that could be applied literally on any surface to give the required properties at radar frequencies, infra-red frequencies or even optical frequencies,” he said.
The professor said they have also been able to realise metamaterials for infra-red light that will enable forces to completely control the emission of infra-red light from surfaces, which can be used for infra-red stealth.
“Laboratory level development of demonstrations has been completed and now we are proceeding for field testing,” he said.