Chennai: While several theories have emerged over the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian airlines flight MH370, one of the most intriguing that is doing rounds is that the airplane could have been made invisible by use of cutting edge technology. As bizarre as it might sound, researchers across the world have achieved reasonable amount of success in this cloaking technology.
In June 2013, a team of researchers headed by Professor Chen Hongsheng from Zhejiang University in China demonstrated a hexagonal device that made a fish and a cat invisible by bending light around the animals creating what is arguably the first invisible cloak in the world.
According to a report published in the Scientific American, meta materials can create prefect cloaking in principle which makes the cloak as well as its contents invisible. While several countries including the United States have been working on this technology, the Chinese seem to have gone furthest in making objects invisible using cheaper technology.
Another technology that is used to cloak objects is nanotube paint. According to a report by MIT Technology Review in December 2011, a nano-structured coating could be used to make paints for stealth aircraft that can’t be seen at night and that are undetectable by radar at any time of day.
The coating made of carbon nanotubes can be used to cloak an object in utter darkness, making it indistinguishable from the night sky. Invisibility cloaks shield objects by manipulating incident light so that it simply flows around them.
Not just research organizations but even private firms engaged in defence technology such as BAE Systems which specializes in advanced defence and aeorospace systems, is working on making aircrafts invisible and claims to put it to commercial use soon. The unique camouflage system called Adaptiv could help turn a helicopter into a cloud or a warship into a wave. According to the firm’s website, the high tech camouflage system uses modules, which look like cells in a honeycomb to cover the flanks of an armoured vehicle.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle newspaper, Dr. B.S. Murty, Professor at the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at IIT Madras says that while it was technically possible to make little objects invisible, it is highly unlikely that a huge airplane could be completely made invisible using nano or any other technology available at present.
“If hiding the plane from being detected by satellites and other communication devices is the objective, then it could be simply achieved by constructing an underground hangar and setting up jamming devices to prevent transmission of signals,” he says.