Scientists Develop New Coating That Could Hide People from Thermal Cameras

By: | January 24th, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Infrared cameras are the heat-sensing eyes that detect people and other objects by the heat they emit. Now, researchers have discovered a new coating that can cloak thermal radiation at some temperatures…rendering people and objects practically invisible by thermal cameras.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed this ultrathin coating made from samarium nickel oxide.

There is a general rule of physics, ‘the hotter an object gets, the brighter it glows’…allowing infrared cameras to detect people and vehicles based on the heat they emit. But this theory does not work well for the things coated with samarium nickel oxide. This new stealth sheet, offers significant improvements over other heat-masking technologies.

 Alireza Shahsafi, a doctoral student in Kats’ lab and one of the lead authors of the study, said, “We can imagine a future where infrared imaging is much more common, negatively impacting personal privacy,” 

“If we could cover the outside of clothing or even a vehicle with a coating of this type, an infrared camera would have a harder time distinguishing what is underneath. View it as an infrared privacy shield. The effect relies on changes in the optical properties of our coating due to a change in temperature. Thus, the thermal radiation of the surface is dramatically changed and can confuse an infrared camera.”


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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