Behind the buzz and beyond the hype:
Our Nanowerk-exclusive feature articles
Posted: Jan 30, 2015
Nanotechnology and nanomaterials for camouflage and stealth applications (page 3 of 5)
Advanced Materials for Stealth
Today virtually every nation and many non-state military organizations have access to advanced tactical sensors for target acquisition (radar and thermal imagers) and intelligence gathering surveillance systems (ground and air reconnaissance). Precision-guided munitions exist that can be delivered by artillery, missiles, and aircraft and that can operate in the IR region of the electromagnetic spectrum. These advanced imaging sights and sensors allow enemies to acquire and engage targets through visual smoke, at night, and under adverse weather conditions.
To combat these new sensing and detection technologies, camouflage paint, paint additives, tarps, nets and foams have been developed for visual camouflage and thermal and radar signature suppression. Most of the conventional materials used in the present stealth technologies are effective in reducing detection of a camouflaged object only in specific (i.e.visible or infrared or microwave) range of the electromagnetic spectrum. For example, most camouflage materials that are used to disguise soldiers and vehicles during the day show up easily when viewed through night vision goggles and infrared cameras. This is because leaves and other foliage reflect infrared light in a different way when compared to other fabrics and materials. Such limitations hence necessitate development of advanced materials with multispectral camouflage capabilities.
The emerging advanced materials suitable for multi-spectral camouflage/stealth applications mostly belong to categories such as conducting polymers, liquid crystals, chiral materials, multiferrics, nanomaterials, metamaterials (artificially engineered structures), smart textiles, etc. owing to their response to electromagnetic radiation of different energies.
The most important issue however lies in the engineering of these materials in their pure, composite or hybrid forms to generate the capability in altering the direction (away from the detector) of reflected or emitted electromagnetic radiation or its absorption profile, over broad frequency regime.
Nanomaterials/Nanotechnology for Defense Applications4
Nanotechnology has significant influence over a set of many interrelated core skills of land forces like protection, engagement, detection, movements, communications and information collection together with interrelated warfare strategies. Additionally, nanotechnology also has its role in the development of sensor for warfare agents, tagging and tracking and destruction of CBRN warfare agents, besides many other possible applications.
With the highly promising expectations of nanotechnology for new innovative products, materials, and power sources it is evident that nanotechnology can bring many innovations into the defence world owing to the following material functionalities:
Adaptive structures: Active structures that adapt and correct firing conditions
Super penetrator materials: Nanostructured cone material that sharpens upon impact or that gives additional damage
High-energetic propellants: e.g. Nano-dispersed aluminum as propellant agent
Lightweight combat systems (aircrafts, gun, tanks etc): High strength nanocomposite plastics and biomimic (human bone type) structures to reduce weight and radar signature
Smart components: Components with built-in condition and firing monitoring sensors, such as fiber braggs
Future war fighter or combat soldier
Sensors and platforms
Camouflage (countermeasures, stealth, etc.)
Camouflage Stealth Applications
Although a vast literature, in the form of monographs, books, research papers, patents, etc., is available related to the synthesis, properties, and applications of nanomaterials, however, very little information is available on their camouflage or stealth applications. It is therefore necessary to conceptualize nanomaterials for camouflage and stealth applications by taking into consideration some of their electromagnetic, thermal, chromogenic, and mechanical properties for creating low weight, high strength structures, and coatings with a scope of altering their reflection/absorption/scattering characteristics of electromagnetic radiation in visible, infrared, and microwave regions thereby leading to the development of the following camouflage/stealth products and technologies:
RAM sheet with ballistic protection
Light weight and high strength structural nanocomposites incorporated with materials having multispectral camouflage characteristics
Coatings with functionalities of pigmentation, texture, IR reflectivity, MW absorption etc., for multispectral camouflage
Smart materials and textiles for adaptive camouflage (soldier’s uniforms), etc.