British performance apparel brand Vollebak has released details of a new Thermal Camouflage Jacket, which could lay the foundation for an “invisibility cloak” that could conceal its wearer on the infrared spectrum, as well as the on the visible spectrum.
The jacket is made with 42 patches of graphene, individually controlled via microcomputer to emit different levels of thermal radiation without any change to their actual temperature. Programming the patches to have the same level of thermal radiation as their surroundings makes them appear “invisible” to infrared cameras.
“The prototype Thermal Camouflage Jacket proves the viability of wearable thermal camouflage, and I can now confidently say that the concept of an invisibility cloak is no longer science fiction,” says Coskun Kocabas, Professor of 2D Device Materials at the University of Manchester and the National Graphene Institute (NGI).
“We’ve used graphene because it’s a highly tuneable material, which means that applying energy to it changes how it appears on both the infrared spectrum and the visible spectrum,” Kocabas adds. “While the jacket only operates on the infrared spectrum today, it should ultimately be possible to build a version that also operates on the visible spectrum.”
The innovation is the result of a three-year research collaboration among the company, NGI and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at The University of Manchester.